A girl from Indiana is battling flesh-eating bacteria (known as necrotizing fasciitis) her family says she got while swimming at a Florida beach.
It got us wondering: Is it possible to contract that type of bacteria in Lake Erie?
THE QUESTION: Is it possible to get necrotizing fasciitis in Lake Erie?
OUR EXPERTS: Chris Kippes (head of epidemiology) and Tom Fink (beach water program director), both from the Cuyahoga County Board of Health
If you live near Lake Erie, you know to stay out of the water for 24 to 48 hours after heavy rain. Why?
"With the combined sewers that we have here in the area plus run off from just the land around the beach areas," the near shore waters can have a higher bacteria count," Fink said.
That's why the county tests the water daily and issues advisories when needed. The problem bacteria? E Coli, with both Fink and Kippes say can cause necrotizing fasciitis.
"It's important that several types of bacteria can cause this flesh eating bacteria," Kippes added.
Those with compromised immune systems are most at risk, but anyone with an open cut or wound should stay out of the water when the warnings are up.
"If they have a break in their skin, they should avoid entering hot tubs, pools, or natural bodies of water such as lakes, rivers, streams," Kippes warned.
Necrotizing fasciitis is rare, impacting one in 100,000 each year. But is it possible to get necrotizing fasciitis in Lake Erie?
"You can get this type of infection from swimming in Lake Erie under very certain or ideal conditions," Kippes confirmed.
"It's a very rare illness that we see, but there is that slight possibility out there," Fink added.
VERIFIED?: Yes, although chances are slim