Tyler King did not directly touch water the day he was infected with flesh-eating bacteria. He doesn't know how it happened. But when his left arm began swelling, reaching three times its normal size, he rushed to an emergency room, CBS reports. "When I was a little bit younger, I probably would have tried to tough it out. Well, that would have been the worst thing that I could do," King said. "If I had gone to sleep … and had woke up with it at the rate it was spreading, I might not have an arm right now." King, who owns a water sports business in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, had contracted vibrio. The bacteria is commonly found in warm, brackish water, a combination of salt and fresh water. When exposed to an open wound, vibrio can cause a skin infection. The bacteria can be deadly if the wound goes untreated.
King had paddled across a lake Friday, per the New York Post, but he hadn't stepped into the water. He's recovering now. "The swelling is mostly gone as well as the rash, but the pain in my elbow and arm is still pretty significant,” he said. East Coast beaches have had other recent reports of infections. "Waters are getting warmer and the bacteria loves warmer water, so we’re all at higher risk," said Dr. David Agus, per CBS. The key to beating the infection, Agus said, is to treat it quickly with antibiotics. He suggests people check themselves and children for cuts and cover any open cuts with waterproof band-aids before going into the ocean. "Don’t be afraid of the ocean," Agus said, "but be aware of what’s going on." (Read more flesh-eating bacteria stories.)