A carpenter from Galveston, Texas who helped repair homes damaged by Hurricane Harvey has died after contracting the rare flesh-eating bacterial infection necrotizing fasciitis. 31-year-old Josue Zurita died at John Sealy Hospital last week, the Houston Chronicle reported Monday. Zurita is the second person to have died from the rare infection following Harvey's landfall in Texas in August.
In a statement Monday, the Galveston County Health District urged Harvey relief workers to take proper precautions when treating wounds. Zurita first entered the hospital Oct. 10 with a "seriously infected wound" on his left arm, at which point he was diagnosed with necrotizing fasciitis.
"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 of the Galveston County Local Health Authority said Monday. "This is a very rare infection but that doesn’t make it any less heartbreaking for this person's family and friends." Though Galveston County did not identify the victim in their statement, Zurita's family confirmed the death to the Chronicle.
Josue Zurita was born in Oaxaca, Mexico and later moved to the United States to help his family. Described in his obituary as a "loving father and hard-working carpenter," he chose to remain after Hurricane Harvey to assist with rebuilding efforts in Harris and Galveston counties.
Though this marks the only known instance of necrotizing fasciitis in Galveston related to Harvey, the flesh-eating bacteria also caused the death of a 77-year-old woman in Houston last month. The Galveston County Health District advises that those assisting with relief efforts keep all wounds covered with dry bandages, seek first aid even for minor wounds (i.e. any break in the skin), and avoid contact with natural bodies of water.