A Galveston man died last week from a flesh-eating bacterial infection contracted while doing Hurricane Harvey repair work, Galveston County Health District officials confirmed Monday.
The man was identified on Facebook and a GoFundMe page as Josue Zurita, 31. He died Oct. 16 after going to the hospital six days before with a seriously infected wound on his upper left arm, health district spokesman Scott Packard said.
At the hospital, the man was diagnosed with necrotizing fasciitis, a rare bacterial infection that eats at tissue, Packard said.
The man had been working on repairing several homes damaged by Harvey, Packard said.
Zurita was a carpenter, according to his obituary.
The bacteria entered between the skin and muscle, leaving a wider space for it to travel quickly, Dr. Philip Keiser, Galveston County local health authority, said.
The infection most likely occurred when bacteria from debris or floodwater entered through a wound or cut, Keiser said.
“I would certainly say this was a Harvey-related death,” Keiser said. “Where it came from, I don’t know. I don’t know whether the floodwaters carried it or if he was just unlucky.”
People with strong immune systems who practice proper wound care and good hygiene have a low chance of contracting the infection, and people who get the infection usually have other health problems that lower their body’s ability to fight it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
This is the only known case of necrotizing fasciitis in Galveston County related to Hurricane Harvey, Packard said.