AUSTIN (KXAN) — A Nashville man visiting Austin with his family ended up spending more time in the hospital and speaking with doctors than enjoying his vacation.
John Hardin said he was trying to cross Barton Creek, which is directly below Barton Springs Pool, when he slipped and gashed his hand on a rock in the water.
Hardin said he went to a medical clinic to get it stitched up and get some antibiotics, but after a few days his infection started to get worse.
“There were lines going down my arm and making their way towards my heart,” said Hardin.
Hardin spent the night in the emergency room in Dallas before heading back to Nashville to receive more treatment.
“The emergency department in Texas wisely took a culture of his wound,” said Dr. Trent Rosenbloom with Vanderbilt University Medical Center. “That culture eventually showed he had an infection with a bacteria called Aeromonas.”
Rosenbloom is treating Hardin. He said this bacteria is fairly common and doesn’t typically cause infection, but it can if someone has an open wound.
“When it causes infections in people it is often people who are not healthy and strong like John is,” said Rosenbloom. “Rather it is in people who have immunosuppression, but Aeromonas can infect anybody, especially if they have an open wound.”
Rosenbloom said seeking medical attention early made a big difference for Hardin.
“It is true that one of the problems you can have with Aeromonas is it can be a flesh-eating bacteria it can cause what we call necrotizing fasciitis,” said Rosenbloom.
Hardin’s infection did not get to that point, but he said he’s happy he reached out to his doctor sooner rather than later.
“The first thing that goes through your head is how serious is this going to be,” said Hardin.
KXAN reached out to the City of Austin Watershed Protection Department to see if it tests the water in Lady Bird Lake and Barton Creek. The department responded with the below statement.
The Watershed Protection Department tests for E. coli, which is a standard indicator for human pathogens. We do not track other strains of bacteria in our creeks, lakes and springs. Bacteria, parasites and protists may be present in any natural water body. Bacteria levels and the concentration of urban pollutants tend to be higher after heavy rainfall. For these reasons, we recommend prompt first aid for any open wound, and to avoid swimming in natural water bodies for at least three days after a rain.City of Austin Watershed Protection Department
There are signs up at Barton Creek warning people about the risks of getting in the water.
Rosenbloom said if you get cut in a creek or even the lake you should immediately clean the wound with soap or an antibacterial.