A man is fighting for his life after he recently was contaminated by flesh-eating bacteria in New Jersey waters, his family told Patch.

Angel Perez, 60, of Millville was recently crabbing in the waters off Matts Landing in the Maurice River when he began to have severe pain and swelling in his right leg, according to his daughter, Dilena Perez-Dilan.

Since contracting the infection on July 2, it has spread to his blood, and his forearms are black. He has blisters and scarring, according to Perez-Dilan.

“Don’t take my legs. Please, don’t take my legs,” Perez-Dilan said, describing her father’s words after having his breathing tubes removed.

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Perez has Vibrio necrotizing fasciitis, a flesh-eating bacteria that county officials acknowledge could be found in the same waters. He is currently in the intensive care unit at Cooper University Hospital where he could have all of his limbs amputated, Perez-Dilan said.

Cumberland County officials, meanwhile, say they are aware of Perez’s case and say that such bacteria can live in the water during the summer.

Noah Hetzell, assistant health officer at the Cumberland County Health Department, said the vibrio bacteria is found naturally in brackish waters but it flourishes during the summer months. When the waters get warmer, vibrio bacteria can be found in much higher concentrations, he told Patch.

The Matts Landing area is not a regulated swimming location, he said. This means that the health department does not have the ability to force it’s closure.

“We can only recommend that residents avoid entering brackish waters, especially if they have are immunocompromised or have open wounds or sores on their body,” he said.

Larry Hajna, a spokesman for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, said that, while rare, bacteria do occur naturally in water, regardless of general water quality. He did not comment on specific types of bacteria and referred comment to the county health department.

Perez-Dilan said another family member and one of her father’s friends got skin rashes and swelling after going in the water recently at Matts Landing.

Photo courtesy of Dilena Perez-Dilan

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