(BE ADVISED: Included at the bottom of this story is an image some may find unsettling.)
A Florence man is being treated for flesh-eating bacteria his family says was contracted in the Tennessee River.
Cassey Rutherford says her husband, Ricky Rutherford, is in the ICU at North Alabama Medical Center in Florence after surgery to remove the area of his leg infected with necrotizing fasciitis, also known as flesh-eating disease.
"Saturday, they told me to prepare for the worst," said Ricky's wife, Cassey Rutherford. "It's been pretty up and down and touch and go."
Cassey Rutherford said her husband went kayaking July 6 on the Tennessee River at Second Creek in Waterloo. His symptoms started July 8, she said.
"He came home with a 103 temp. There were no signs of anything else, just the fever," said Rutherford.
By Tuesday, he could barely walk and a spot on his leg started to look worse. Cassey said her husband didn't get in the water with any open wounds or cuts.
"I had drawn an outline around the area to see if it was spreading and it was drastically spreading," said Rutherford.
Ricky had surgery to remove the infected area and the hospital confirmed it was necrotizing fasciitis. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said flesh-eating bacteria is rare and people can get it from open wounds, insect bites and burns. However, sometimes, you can get it without your skin being broken.
WAAY 31 reached out to the Alabama Department of Public Health about Ricky's case and it said they don't report or keep up with individual flesh-eating bacteria cases.
"I don't want anyone else to go through this. Saturday, I was having to think about burying the love of my life," said Rutherford.
Rutherford said she wants to thank everyone for praying for her family.
"Thank everybody for the prayers because that's what's been working," said Rutherford.
Doctors told Rutherford he's made it though the worst part and if he continues to improve, he could come home in about a week.
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