July 8, 2010

Kenner Boy Dies Of Rare Bacterial Infection

John Lopez Contracted Bacteria While Walking On Beach

POSTED: 3:58 pm CDT July 8, 2010
UPDATED: 7:07 pm CDT July 8, 2010

KENNER, La. --

It was supposed to be a fun family trip to the coast to check out a car show, but it ended with the death of a 12-year-old Kenner boy.

John Lopez, lovingly called "John-John" by friends and family, unknowingly contracted a deadly bacteria after walking in the water.

"They were there for a car show and within 24 hours, he got ill with this parasite," said John's sister, Crissy Harvard.

John walked on the beach, and only his feet touched the water. A short time later, he became sick. Doctors said he was infected by a bacteria called Vibrio Vulnificus, which is rare. But for people like John, who had existing medical problems, the infection is deadly.

"When you have chronic disease like HIV, liver problems, you're predisposed, and infection could form and it could be fatal," said WDSU medical editor Dr. Corey Hebert.

Hebert said you can get this infection if you are in salt water with an exposed cut or scratch, or a pre-existing condition. John's family said he had a small sore on his foot, and suffered from Hepatitis C.

Doctors said if he had survived, he would have lost his arms and legs. But on Saturday, John-John passed away.

"This is horrible. It breaks my heart," said his mother, Wendy Harvard. "He's only 12. He just made 12."

Hebert said not everyone is at risk for this infection. Those with pre-existing conditions are most at risk, but he said everyone should pay attention to their bodies.

"When you walk through brackish water and get cut, don't ignore it," Hebert said. "Go to your doctor if it turns red or if you feel really bad."

The Vibrio Vulnificus bacteria can cause heart failure, loss of limbs or even death.
See Also: Vibrio Vulnificus

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