Lake Jackson man contracts flesh-eating bacteria twice while at Texas beaches

A Lake Jackson man is in the hospital recovering from a rare flesh-eating bacteria he said he contracted Wednesday.

Woody Harvill contracted Vibrio Vulnificus, a naturally occurring bacteria, twice. The 68-year-old said he caught it the first time in his right hand over Memorial Day weekend while surf fishing in the Brazoria County Beach near Surfside. Harvill said he contracted the bacteria again Wednesday morning in his left hand while fishing at the same beach.

“I finally took my bandages off two weeks ago, and I decided I’m a gonna go fishing. And I was very careful. I didn’t get this wet. I had it sealed up and then I got it in the other hand,” Harvill said.

Harvill had to undergo surgery at UTMB Galveston both times. He said he’s not sure how he got Vibrio because he did not have an open cut or wound, which is typically how people contract the bacteria.

People with pre-existing conditions are also susceptible, according to the Galveston County Health Department. The bacteria thrive in saltwater.

Galveston County Health Department said they only have two reported cases in of Vibrio in 2021 — one in Crystal Beach and the other was food-related.

Harvill said he does not want people to freak out about getting in the water he just wants them to pay attention to how they feel after.

“If somebody starts feeling discomfort and it starts to swell pretty rapidly, go get it checked out because it’s very aggressive and it will kill you,” he said.