Officials said a Galveston carpenter died from necrotizing fasciitis, a rare bacterial infection that kills soft tissue.
Josue Zurita, 31, had been working demolition jobs on flooded homes, after Hurricane Harvey.
"It's most likely this person's infection occurred when bacteria from Harvey debris or floodwater entered his body through a wound or cut," Dr. Philip Keiser said, in a statement. Keiser is an infectious disease expert, and serves as the Galveston County Local Health Authority.
"This is a very rare infection but that doesn't make it any less heartbreaking for this person's family and friends," Keiser added.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), necrotizing fasciitis is rare. The agency said strong immune systems, good hygiene, and proper wound care can help ward off the infection. The CDC said many people who get necrotizing fasciitis have other health problems, like diabetes and cancer, which may lower their body's ability to fight infection.
Last month, Harris County officials confirmed a Kingwood woman also died of the same bacterial infection. She came in contact with contaminated Harvey floodwaters, after cutting her elbow in her flooded garage.
The Galveston County Health District (GCHD) said people working on Hurricane Harvey recovery projects should be aware of proper wound care, to help prevent infections.
GCHD advised people with wounds or cuts to:
- Keep open wounds covered with clean, dry bandages until healed.
- Not delay first aid of even minor, non-infected wounds (like blisters, scrapes or any break in the skin).
- Avoid contact with natural bodies of water (lakes, rivers, oceans) if you have an open wound or skin infection.
- Wash hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand rub if washing is not possible.
- Seek medical attention for redness, swelling or fever.