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Flesh-eating bacteria from Harvey debris kills Texas man

GALVESTON, Texas -- Health officials say the death this month of a 31-year-old Galveston man is the result of Hurricane Harvey because he was doing repair work to clean up from the storm when he contracted a flesh-eating bacterial infection.

Josue Zurita went to the hospital Oct. 10 with a serious infection to his arm. He died six days later.

"He's a very caring person," Brenda Avalos, wife of Josue's cousin Anastacio, told CBS affiliate KHOU-TV. "He has a lot of friends here in Galveston that love him. Everybody is very sad. He was very young and always smiling."

Dr. Philip Keiser with the Galveston County Health District says bacteria from Harvey debris or floodwater entered the man's body through a wound or cut.

Zurita, a carpenter, was working on repairing damaged homes when he contracted the rare infection, also known as necrotizing fasciitis, which kills soft tissue.

"That area -- the fascia between the muscle and the skin gets an infection and that's an open space so infections just roar through there very quickly and when that happens it's very hard to stop it," Keiser said.

Zurita left Mexico 12 years ago for an opportunity to provide for his family, leaving behind his wife and daughter to come to Galveston and work, KHOU reported.

There have been several other deaths from similar infections in the wake of the storm.

Last month, a 77-year-old woman died from a flesh-eating bacteria that she contracted after falling into Harvey floodwaters in her home and sustaining a traumatic injury. Nancy Reed of Harris County, Texas was remembered by the community as an avid donor and longtime volunteer, both with her church and several non-profit organizations, KHOU-TV reported.

Contaminated storm water was the underlying cause of at least one other death during Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath. Clevelon Brown, 64, of Galveston County picked up a bacterial infection from standing in floodwater and died of sepsis -- an immune-system response to infection that causes widespread inflammation.

State and local authorities have tallied at least 80 Harvey-related deaths in flood-affected areas since the storm hit Aug. 25.

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