Worker Dies from Flesh-Eating Bacteria in Harvey Aftermath

Galveston, TX– A 31-year-old Galveston man has died from flesh-eating bacteria he likely contracted as a result of Hurricane Harvey, the second such fatality from the catastrophic event.

According to a report in the Houston Chronicle, Josue Zurita succumbed to necrotizing fasciitis, (an infection that spreads quickly through muscle tissue), at John Sealy Hospital in Galveston Oct. 16, his family said. Galveston County health officials Monday confirmed Zurita’s death.

Authorities said Zurita, a carpenter, had recently worked repairing several homes damaged by Harvey flooding.

Earlier this month, the Harris County medical examiners ruled that Nancy Reed, 77, of Kingwood died from the infection after falling in floodwaters and cutting her arm. She died at Memorial Hermann Hospital in the Texas Medical Center on Sept. 15.

J.R. Atkins, a former first responder, also contracted a flesh-eating bacterial infection but survived. He had been kayaking through floodwaters to check on neighbors affected by the hurricane, according to a Facebook post in September.

Several types of bacteria can cause necrotizing fasciitis, according to the National Institutes of Health. Such an infection can spread quickly and kills the body’s soft tissue, especially if it infects a wound that is not properly cared for. The infection also can become lethal within a short amount of time. Surgery to remove the dead, damaged, or infected tissue is the primary treatment for necrotizing fasciitis.