Man battles flesh-eating bacteria after visiting Florida beach

PENSACOLA BEACH, Fla – An Alabama man had his leg amputated after doctors reported he contracted a flesh-eating bacteria during a visit to Pensacola Beach earlier this month.

William Pledger, 75, and his family enjoy watching the Blue Angels, sailing and fishing every year at Little Sabine Bay in Pensacola Beach.

His son, John Patrick Pledger, says the entire family was in the water on July 9. Five days later, his father complained that his leg started to hurt and then things got worse.

“He was in severe pain, he couldn’t sit still, his leg had started to swell,” John Pledger said.

He was taken to the hospital where doctors diagnosed him with the flesh-eating bacteria Vibrio vulnificus.

Pledger’s leg was in bad shape and had to be amputated below the knee.

Earlier this month, the Escambia County Health Department issued a health advisory about vibrio in the water, urging people with cuts not to go in the water.


William Pledger’s family say he was nursing a cut on his left leg.

“He had a small cut on his left leg, it was covered in scabs, it didn’t look too bad. He was very small,” said John Pledger.

His family assured that he was not in any other body of water besides the bay at Pensacola Beach.

“It was very emotional to see my dad go through all of this,” John Pledger said.

Vibrio symptoms include vomiting, abdominal pain, and blisters.

This year there has been one reported case in Escambia County. Last year there were 11.

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“Take care, stay out of the water, it’s bad business,” John Pledger said.

Doctors say William Pledger has a long road to recovery and will be hospitalized for months.

Copyright 2022 by WPLG – All rights reserved.

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