Former Hawks President Infected with Necrotizing Fasciitis in Florida

In the sports world, former Atlanta Hawks president Bob Williams has been known for his tenacity – but according to Newsweek, he may soon be known for something different: contracting necrotizing fasciitis in Florida.

In February 2021, Williams was kayaking in the Garrison Channel around Tampa, Florida. Prior to embarking on his kayaking trip that day, Williams states that he had concerns about the kayak’s seat. After he brought it up to employees at the rental company, Williams alleges that at least one employee messed around with the seat before deeming it safe and okay.

However, says Williams, the seat collapsed while he was out on the water, sending the 68-year-old tumbling into the Channel. Unable to right himself or climb onto any docks, Williams swam around until he was able to receive help climbing onto a floating dock. At this time, Williams alleges that he cut his feet on various oysters and barnacles, contracting necrotizing fasciitis.

Despite asking for a refund, Williams says he was not granted one. Within 24-hours, Williams was hospitalized due to septic shock. Although this sounds quick, necrotizing fasciitis due to vibrio vulnificus bacteria is fatal in an estimated 20% of cases. Luckily, Williams was not one of these cases. However, he did have to undergo surgery to remove necrotized tissue from his feet. He also states that his feet are permanently injured. As of now, Williams has filed a lawsuit against the company because of this.

Necrotizing Fasciitis

There are many types of bacteria which cause necrotizing fasciitis, a rare bacterial infection which the media often refers to as a “flesh-eating disease.” However, A. streptococcus is the most common bacteria associated with this condition. The bacteria enters the body through a break in the skin, such as cuts or scrapes, insect bites, or puncture wounds. In rarer cases, the bacteria may also enter the body from blunt force trauma. Having liver cirrhosis, kidney disease, cancer, or diabetes increase the risk of contracting necrotizing fasciitis. Once contracted, patients should seek medical help immediately, as this infection can be life-threatening. Symptoms include:

  • Severe pain
  • Fever
  • Red, swollen skin
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Skin necrosis
  • Changes in skin color
  • Skin blistering and ulceration
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Organ failure
  • Sepsis

Learn more about necrotizing fasciitis.

Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn has an educational background in writing and marketing. She firmly believes in the power of writing in amplifying voices, and looks forward to doing so for the rare disease community.

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