A man who helped repair homes after hurricane harvey has died of flesh-eating bacteria staphylococcus epidermidis shape

On Monday, the Galveston County Health District said the man went to a hospital on Oct. 10 with a seriously infected wound on his upper left arm. He was diagnosed with necrotizing fasciitis – a rare bacterial infection that kills soft tissue – and died six days later.

The Houston news channel KHOU identified the man as Josue Zurita. An obituary said Zurita was a hard-working carpenter who left Mexico to help provide for his family, and that he became infected while working to rebuild Harris and Galveston counties.

Philip Keiser, the local health authority for Galveston County, said in a news release published by the health district that the infection most likely occurred when bacteria from hurricane debris or floodwater entered the man’s body through a wound or cut.

Even in one case, as I was examining a patient, I could see the red spread in the minutes I was examining him, and that’s the real danger to it, Keiser said.


As it spreads, it’s going up the space between the muscle and skin, and as it does that, it kills all the nerves and the blood vessels can clot.

Harvey made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane late on the night of Aug. 25. Analysts described the storm as a 1-in-1,000-year flood event that dominated huge swaths of Southeast Texas. In mid-September, Texas officials said more than 80 people had died as a result of the storm and the subsequent flooding throughout Houston and coastal areas, though it would take weeks to determine an exact death toll.

Infectious disease after a flood is typically a short-term concern, as The Post’s Ben Guarino reported last month. In September 2005, shortly after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, the CDC reported 30 cases of MRSA, an antibiotic-resistant staphylococcus bacterium, among a group of evacuees sent to Dallas.

Tetanus booster shots can be one means of defense against infectious diseases. The health district’s news release also noted that proper wound care is vital to preventing infections. That includes keeping wounds covered with clean, dry bandages until they heal, and seeking medical attention for any redness, swelling or fever. Even minor, noninfected wounds – like blisters or scrapes – should be treated immediately.

Stress also has a negative effect on the immune system, and ensuring food hygiene can be especially difficult in disaster zones. People’s risk of getting sick increases further when they are packed into crowded areas, like a mega-shelter, after a natural disaster.

CNN reported that on Sept. 15, a 77-year-old woman, Nancy Reed, also died of flesh-eating bacteria near Houston. A medical examiner report said the cause of the Reed’s death was necrotizing fasciitis. Reed was helping her son clear out his home when she accidentally injured herself and contracted the disease, according to an associate pastor at the church that hosted Reed’s memorial service.

One man, J.R. Atkins, told KHOU earlier this month that he was fighting flesh-eating bacteria. Atkins, a former first responder, wrote on Facebook about how he nearly died after noticing a small bite on his left arm that gradually swelled to his hand. Atkins spent time in the ICU after kayaking through his neighborhood checking on people affected by the floods.