Baton Rouge man gets leg amputated after swimming near Bay St. Louis

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NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) -- A Baton Rouge man is in the ICU and on a ventilator after contracting a flesh-eating bacteria last weekend in Mississippi.

Family members told The Advocate, Dick Empson had been in a medically-induced coma after having his leg amputated earlier this week, but last night he started responding to touch and sounds.

They say Empson was on vacation in Bay St. Louis when he started feeling sick Sunday night and noticed a painful purple spot on his leg.

The family took him to the ER Monday where they say doctors diagnosed the infection as one caused by flesh-eating bacteria Vibrio vulnificus. Amputation was his only chance of survival.

The vibrio bacteria is naturally in warm bodies of water. If it gets into your bloodstream through a cut or open wound you should seek medical treatment immediately.

This week, several beaches along the Gulf Coast have posted warnings about a different bacteria in the water, enterococci. Enterococci is commonly found in sewage pollution and may cause swimmers to get a rash or ear and eye infections but it is not flesh-eating bacteria.

See all beaches under advisory:

Alabama
Florida
Louisiana
Mississippi
Texas (Galveston)

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