Coast man fighting for his life; loses leg after a day on the water

Published: Apr. 21, 2015 at 9:57 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 22, 2015 at 9:54 AM CDT
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OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - A day on the water had a tragic outcome for an Ocean Springs man who is fighting for his life at Singing River Hospital in Pascagoula.

Gregory Bru, Sr. is battling a life threatening infection known as Vibrio vulnificus; often referred to as flesh eating bacteria. It all started on a weekend fishing trip.

Bru, known as "Cookie" to his friends, has always loved spending time on the water. He headed out from the Ocean Springs Harbor to Horn and Chandeleur Islands for a fishing trip Saturday, April 11. On Monday, April 13, his left leg was amputated just below the knee. His son, Gregory Bru, Jr. said watching his dad go through this is heart breaking.

"It's gonna be a long road. He's holding strong. It's in God's hands."

Gregory, Jr. said his dad contracted the Vibrio vulnificus infection after getting his legs splashed with water all day on the boat.

"He's been fighting a hard battle. I hope nobody else goes through this. It's a very dangerous bacteria."

Dr. Okechukwu Ekenna, an infectious disease specialist at Singing River Hospital, said April is early for Vibrio cases. The bacteria thrives in salty brackish waters, primarily during the warmest months of the year. Dr. Ekenna said the organisms generally enter a person's body through open wounds, but that's not the only way.

"We get infected with Vibrio primarily through open skin wounds, cuts, inhaling the water, and eating raw oysters, but mostly through cuts."

People who are immune compromised are at a higher risk of serious complications. Bru's son said his dad has liver disease and also had his spleen removed as a child. He has been in the ICU now for over a week, and his son said he's not out of the woods yet.

"Seven days in the hospital, but he's still holding strong. It's definitely a terrible thing to see."

Dr. Ekenna said the key to successful treatment is getting to the hospital fast if you notice any symptoms, which usually appear in the first 24 hours after contact. He also advises caution if you spend time in Gulf waters.

"If you have an open wound, you shouldn't be wading in the water during the summer. If you do, wash it out immediately. And then if you do notice symptoms like chills, fever, sores, blisters, swollen areas, get to the hospital."

Greg Jr. said his dad developed symptoms the day after his fishing trip. Greg Jr. and Cookie's friends and family are praying for his recovery.

"All we can do is pray that God's on his side. There's not much more we can do."

Greg said his Dad is showing more signs of improvement. Meanwhile, we have learned of another possible similar case on the coast involving a young woman. We'll bring you more on that story once we are able to confirm it.

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