National News

Myrtle Beach can't confirm viral social media claim about flesh-eating bacteria

Posted August 1

— The City of Myrtle Beach said it hasn't been able to confirm that a Lumberton woman contracted a flesh-eating bacteria at the beach after a family member's claim on social media went viral over the weekend.

The family said that a woman cut her leg on a chair and later spent time in the ocean. Once the family was back in Lumberton, the woman's leg started turning purple and was covered in blisters.

Family members of the woman said she was airlifted to UNC Medical Center in critical condition, according to a Facebook post.

According to WRAL's Dr. Allen Mask, this type of infection is rare in healthy people.

"It's a bad situation...where someone has a break in the skin where the bad guys can get in," Mask said. "My inclination is to think that there are a lot of other causes for this other than incriminating the water in Myrtle Beach."

The City of Myrtle Beach said in a statement on Facebook that officials have been unable to verify the claim. The statement reads in part:

"The City of Myrtle Beach is aware of a Facebook post that claims bacterial issues along the Grand Strand. We have had no reports and no direct contact about any such issues. The city has been unable to confirm the location or date of any such incident."

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control released a statement saying they are also aware of the potential case of flesh eating bacteria.

"It's important to note that this condition is not necessarily associated with exposure to natural waters like oceans, lakes or rivers or poor water quality," the statement said.

The city said it tests the water twice weekly, and officials said they have not heard of any similar cases this summer.

Experts say good wound care is the best way to prevent bacterial skin infections.

  • Keep draining or open wounds covered with clean, dry bandages until healed
  • Don’t delay first aid of even minor, non-infected wounds (like blisters, scrapes, or any break in the skin)
  • Avoid spending time in whirlpools, hot tubs, swimming pools, and natural bodies of water (e.g., lakes, rivers, oceans) if you have an open wound or skin infection
  • Wash hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand rub if washing is not possible

Also, those with open wounds are encouraged to avoid hot tubs, swimming pools or natural bodies of water.


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  • Ken Ackerman Aug 2, 12:50 p.m.
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    This type of infection is usually caused by bacteria that normally occur on our skin...

  • Ken Ackerman Aug 2, 12:42 p.m.
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    Just think, that's with EPA protection, just wait until the Republicans get done dismantling the EPA.

  • Brenda Love Aug 1, 4:18 p.m.
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    Lari, it's so sad. I've been walking along the beach before and come upon pipes where who knows what kind of sludge is being sent directly into the water.

  • Lari Hamilton Aug 1, 1:20 p.m.
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    Brenda I agree we are poisoning our water . Wilmington (gen x) comes to mind, not as the cause but to reiterate your comment.

  • Brenda Love Aug 1, 11:46 a.m.
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    Wow, this is terrible. She may have to have that amputated. We are poisoning our oceans....