(Meredith) - An Ohio man contracted a rare flesh-eating bacterial infection while visiting his family in Florida.
Barry Briggs, of Waynesville, Ohio, said he became sick after he and his brother-in-law went fishing last month near Weedon Island, about 16 miles south of Tampa.
His foot started to swell, and he noticed blisters on the skin, which he likened to bad sunburn.
"Once this thing took off, and it takes off quickly, it was going one inch an hour up my leg," said Briggs.
When he returned home to Ohio, Briggs went to a hospital where doctors diagnosed him with necrotizing fasciitis -- a rare bacterial infection that spreads quickly in the body and can cause death.
Briggs told WCPO-TV that he spent 11 days in the hospital and underwent multiple skin graft surgeries. With the help of antibiotic treatments, doctors were able to save his foot.
"I'm incredibly fortunate to have all my toes, to have my foot, and to be alive," he told the station.
Just days ago, another man named Mike Walton contracted a similar bacterial infection near Tampa after he accidentally impaled his hand with a fish hook. He told local news outlets that he's also lucky to be alive.
Health experts believe group A Streptococcus is the most common cause of necrotizing fasciitis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The bacteria can enter the body through a break in the skin, including cuts, scrapes, burns and insect bites. It can lead to sepsis, shock and organ failure. Even with treatment, up to 1 in 3 people with necrotizing fasciitis die from the infection, according to the CDC.
Approximately 700 to 1200 cases of necrotizing fasciitis occur each year in the United States, the agency said.