Flesh-eating bacteria from Harvey claims another area victim working to rebuild Houston


Dr. Philip Keiser with the Galveston County Health District says bacteria from Harvey debris or floodwater entered the man's body through a wound or cut.

A 31-year-old man who helped fix homes damaged by the hurricane died last week after rare, flesh-eating bacteria infected him.

Authorities said the man died last Monday, Oct. 16.

State and local authorities have tallied at least 80 Harvey-related deaths in flood-affected areas since the storm hit August 25.

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Josue Zurita, 31, died October 16 after being hospitalized in Galveston County, Texas for an infection in a wound on his arm.

The Houston news channel KHOU identified the man as Josue Zurita.

Zurita had lived in Texas for 12 years after leaving Mexico, finding work in Galveston as a carpenter and was doing demolition work after Hurricane Harvey when he became infected, noted the television station.

"He's a very caring person", Brenda Avalos, wife of Josue's cousin Anastacio, told CBS affiliate KHOU-TV. "He has a lot of friends here in Galveston that loves him. He was very young and always smiling". The Galveston County Health District is reminding people working on Hurricane Harvey recovery projects to take proper care of wounds to avoid further infections.

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Keep open wounds covered with clean, dry bandages until healed. Even minor, noninfected wounds - like blisters or scrapes - should be treated immediately.

The CDC warns against eating or drinking anything contaminated by floodwater that can cause diarrheal disease, such as E. coli or salmonella infection.

The recent death follows that of a 77-year-old woman, Nancy Reed, who also died from flesh-eating bacteria linked to Harvey floodwaters, according to the Harris County medical examiner's office.

Although it is extremely rare, CNN reports that two other cases of necrotizing fasciitis have occurred since Hurricane Harvey made landfall.

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J.R. Atkins, a former first responder, was likewise infected with flesh-eating bacteria, but survived. Atkins spent time in the ICU after kayaking through his neighborhood checking on people affected by the floods.