His Relative Bit Him During a Fight. Days Later, He Nearly Died

Doctors were shocked how Tampa Bay's Donnie Adams contracted flesh-eating bacteria
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 9, 2023 11:29 AM CDT
His Relative Bit Him During a Fight. Days Later, He Nearly Died
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/sudok1)

A Florida man who got into the middle of a tussle ended up with a frightening flesh-eating infection that sent him to the hospital for weeks. Tampa Bay's Donnie Adams says he was at a family get-together in mid-February when two relatives starting fighting and he tried to break it up, reports the Tampa Bay Times, via the Orlando Sentinel. Two days later, a raised bump on his left thigh, about the size of a quarter, started to bother him, right where one of his relatives had bitten him. Adams went to a St. Petersburg hospital to get a tetanus shot and antibiotics, then returned home—but three days later, the 52-year-old headed back to the medical center in serious pain and barely able to walk.

After examining him, surgeon Fritz Brink knew things were bad. "I said to him that I need to take you to the operating room," the doctor tells WKBN. What Brink discovered during surgery: that Adams had contracted necrotizing fasciitis, a condition caused by flesh-eating bacteria. Brink tells the Times that rotting flesh existed in Adams' leg from nearly his knee to his groin, and that he had to excise about 70% of the tissue at the front of Adams' thigh. Doctors say the infection was likely caused by the human bite on his leg—something they'd never seen at this hospital, though Brink says it's not terribly surprising. "A human bite is dirtier than a dog bite as far as the kinds of bacteria that [grow]," he notes.

Brink says that if Adams had waited even 24 hours more, the infection might have spread to his abdomen and sent Adams into the ICU due to a high risk of sepsis. WESH notes that Adams' brother died of septic shock at the age of 47. "It would have been tough to get control of the infection," Brink tells the Times. Instead, Adams slowly started to recover and went home after three weeks. His scarred leg is still healing but is fully functional, with only occasional twinges of pain. As for the two family members whose fight led to his bite, Adams tells the Times: "The parties involved are very sorrowful." (More flesh-eating bacteria stories.)

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