Man contracts rare flesh-eating bacteria while visiting Florida

(CNN) - Two families have come forward after loved ones were hospitalized with flesh eating bacteria infections.

One incident took place in the Gulf of Mexico and the other in Tampa Bay, Fl.

Barry Briggs, from Ohio said he became sick after a Tampa boating trip in March, and was rushed into Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton after returning home.

Briggs spent 11 days in the hospital.

He underwent skin grafts and was put on several different antibiotics.

Luckily doctors were able to save his foot.

Briggs was diagnosed with necrotizing fasciitis caused by group a Streptococcus bacteria which usually enters through a small wound.

Briggs story came days after a Florida man was hospitalized at Tampa General Hospital for a flesh-eating bacterial infection he contracted while fishing in the Gulf of Mexico.

Mike Walton said he was poked by a fishing hook 20 miles off the coast of Palm Harbor.

"I had like little blisters starting to form on my hand and you could watch like sweat beads coming up on side of the hand, and then they just turned black," he said.

Doctors told Walton he’s lucky to be alive, and lucky to have his arm.

“When you look down and you can see your own tendons, back of your hand and your bone going up your arm,” said Walton, “that makes it real.”

Walton is now recovering at home and will have to be treated with antibiotics for the next month.

Briggs raised awareness of the illness through Facebook to post raw images of what the flesh-eating bacteria can do - leaving his foot and shin without any skin.

Necrotizing fasciitis is a rare infection and there are 700 to 1200 cases in the U.S. annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

However, researchers say they also believe this is an underestimate due to cases being under reported.

Copyright 2019 CNN. All rights reserved.