Citrus County man has 6 surgeries to remove massive bacterial infection

A Citrus County man had to undergo six surgeries to remove a massive infection caused by a type of so-called flesh-eating bacteria.

Michael O'Grady says he received two shots for back pain. Weeks later, his doctor said he was suffering from necrotizing fasciitis caused by group A Streptococcus bacteria.

Doctors told him the source of the infection may never be known, but it could have traveled through the needle's puncture site.

The infection became noticeable after the 58-year-old and his wife took a trip to St. George Island in Florida's Panhandle. O'Grady said he knows not to swim with an open wound; however, the puncture wounds from his shots did not cross his mind.

Days after swimming in the gulf, O'Grady said he started showing symptoms of infection - swelling, redness, and warmth - on his backside.

His doctors told him the infection came from group A Streptococcus bacteria.

While his symptoms came on after his trip to the beach, FOX 13's Dr. Joette Giovinco says contracting group A Strep from water is unlikely.  

"Generally speaking, we don't see group A Strep causing water-borne illnesses," Dr. Jo explained.

She says group A Strep is often found on the skin, so the infection could have been caused at the time of the shot or shortly after.

O'Grady admits, he waited weeks to go to the doctor. By that time, the massive infection had him fighting for his life.

"It could have been a lot worse. I could have, I could have died," O'Grady said. "There was lots of dead tissue they had to remove."

O'Grady says, more than anything, he wants this to serve as a warning for others.

"If you do have any kinds of symptoms that are like swelling or sores, don't wait three weeks like I did to go to the doctor. Go and have things checked out," he said.

About a month has passed since O'Grady's first surgery. He says his recovery is progressing, but he still has a few more surgeries ahead of him.