Caitlin Burchill

State Dept. of Health Responds to New Britain Man's Flesh Eating Bacteria Case

A New Britain man says he got necrotizing fasciitis after swimming at Hammonasset with a cut on his leg.

His leg has since had to be amputated above the knee.

While the Connecticut Department of Public Health can’t comment on this case in particular, they want the community to know that these cases are rare.

“Necrotizing fasciitis is almost always random and is not infectious from person to person,” deputy state epidemiologist Dr. Lynn Sosa said.

It's so rare that there have only been between four and nine infections of necrotizing fasciitis caused by group A strep in the state over the past five years, she said.

While there is more than one type of bacteria that can cause necrotizing fasciitis, the infection can spread quickly and dangerously when it’s not treated immediately, as Kagan says he’s experiencing firsthand.

Kagan is recovering at a local health center and reflecting on the damage of the bacteria getting into a small cut.

“All it was a little cut. Nothing more, nothing less,” he said.

He said he got it from a shopping cart while at work.

“I would say it was probably like that big. It wasn’t crazy. I’ve had cuts like that before,” said.

While folks at the Department of Public Health feel for Kagan, they don’t want the public to be scared.

“It’s usually because that person has a scrape or some kind of wound where the bacteria was able to get into the body and a very small amount of the time, it might cause this serious infection.”

Dr. Sosa said it’s really difficult to pinpoint where someone contracted the bacteria.

Medical experts said while rare, bacteria can get into open wounds from ocean water, especially if the person has a compromised immune system.

“I don’t think people should be advised not to go into the ocean just for the sake of it, but if someone has an open wound, we tell them not to go into the ocean and not to go swimming,” said Dr. Tanaya Bhowmick, assistant professor of medicine and infectious diseases at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

Experts recommend all residents keep any cuts clean and if there’s redness or pain, call your doctor immediately.

It's something Kagan is thankful his family eventually did.

“The message probably should be, look, be careful when you go near a twig. Be careful when you open something, be careful when you do this, do that. But it can happen anytime anywhere. Just be careful,” he said.

CT DEEP said they have no information about how or where Kagan contracted his case, but in an email, the deputy commissioner said DEEP uses, “nationally accepted testing protocols which provide an indicator of water quality—and Hammonasset because of its tidal flushing cycle, typically has very high water quality.”

She added, “with thousands of types of bacteria in the environment, we do not test for specific types as they are usually present in the environment in very small amounts.”

“There’s bacteria everywhere, including on our own bodies and our mouths and our skin,” Dr. Bhowmick said.

Medical experts said most of the time, the bacteria is good, but sometimes it isn’t and it enters places it shouldn’t, as it did for Kagan.

“I don’t know how I made it, but I did and look I got 20-25 more years left on this earth, I’m going to make it good. That’s what I’m going to do,” Kagan said.

He's so thankful for his family during this ordeal. Kagan said he’ll continue rehab for a month or two before he gets fitted for a prosthetic leg.

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