Man dies from seawater bacteria in Volusia Co.

By Kristin Giannas, Reporter, kgiannas@clickorlando.com
Published On: Dec 24 2013 09:02:47 AM EST
Updated On: Sep 30 2013 08:19:49 AM EDT

Salt water was his life, according to the family of Henry "Butch" Konietzky, who died Monday night after he was exposed to bacteria in the Halifax River.

ORMOND BEACH, Fla. -

Salt water was his life, according to the family of Henry "Butch" Konietzky, who died Monday night after he was exposed to bacteria in the Halifax River.

"It's just horrifying, it's just totally horrifying," said Debbie Stack, Konietzky's sister-in-law.

Stack said it took just 28 hours for the bacteria to kill Konietzky.

"They tried multiple antibiotics, but nothing was touching it -- nothing even fazed it," Stack said.

Konietzky, 59, was walking knee deep in the river on Saturday, setting crab traps.

The next day, he woke up and noticed what looked like a bug bite on his leg.

"They did not take it serious until it started festering and quickly, and then he started feeling ill," said Stack.

Konietzky was in the emergency room by Sunday night. On Monday, he was gone.

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Doctors said Konietzky was exposed to Vibrio vulnificus, a bacteria that quickly spread through his body and shut down his kidneys and liver.

Experts said the bacteria lives in warm brackish or seawater.

Two cases of the same illness that killed Konietzky, have been reported in Volusia and Flagler counties in the last month.

Health officials are now urging people to avoid eating raw shellfish and going into the water with open wounds.

Jim Oliver, Professor in the Department of Biology at UNC Charlotte, has written over 200 papers and performed extensive research on Vibrio vulnificus, and said in most cases, the wound is very small -- the size of an ant bite.

Konietzky's family said more needs to be done to warn people that it's in the water.

"If it's that dangerous, for people to be in it, should be at least posted -- we were tempted to make our own signs and go down there and post them on the trees," she said.

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