Man killed by flesh-eating bacteria; wife has warning for others

Woman shares her story in hopes to help with prevention

ANTHEM, Ariz. - Mike Funk lived for the summers he spent out on the water.

No one ever thought his love for the water would be what ended his life.

“The whole process was so bizarre and it was so fast,” said his wife Marcia Funk.

Funk is still coming to grips with the horrific way Mike died.

She described it to 12 News as something, “Out of horror movie.”

It was Sept. 11 and the couple, who lives in Anthem, was getting ready to leave their home in Ocean City, Maryland to return to Arizona when Mike suddenly got sick.

"I walked up to the car and said, ‘Are you all right?’ and he said ‘No, I’m throwing up’ and I could see that he had just thrown up,” she said.

Their nightmare had begun.

Within hours, Mike was in the hospital and doctors told the family he had vibrio vulnificus.

“It was a flesh-eating bacteria,” Marcia said. “Those are the exact words that they used.”

Doctors told them he could have caught the bacteria from being in the water with an open wound or eating raw shellfish.

“One nurse said we're doing everything we can to save his life and that shocked me because I didn't know this was a life-threatening situation,” Funk said, “I thought he had an infection in his leg.” 

As the skin-eating infection spread, Mike's leg was amputated.

He was then put on life support and within two days of falling ill, he died. 

“He loved the water, he loved boating and he loved crabbing,” Marcia said. “And that's what killed him.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control, vibrio vulnificus is typically found in brackish, warm waters and kills more than 100 people a year.

Funk said there were no warnings around the bay where they boated or any areas.

She believes more should be done to let people know about the bacteria and other dangers that could be lying beneath the water.

“Maybe not everyone dies from it but still you should know it's in the waters so you can avoid certain areas,” she said, “If I had known, I would have never let him get in the water.”

Copyright 2016 KPNX


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