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Texas woman recounts her ‘unreal’ fight against flesh-eating bacteria

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AUSTIN, Texas – A Texas woman is recovering after a trip to the beach quickly turned into a life-threatening scare.

“I feel like I’ve absolutely walked out of this like a cat that used one of their lives,” said Michelle O’Brien.

Within hours, a seemingly small accident left Michelle’s family never wanting to return.

Michelle and her son were looking for sea glass when she stepped on an oyster.

“That oyster was like a razor blade, like a surgeon’s scalpel, it went straight through,” she said.

Even though she was wearing thick sneakers, Michelle was exposed to Vibrio Vulnificus, a flesh-eating bacteria.

“Kinda like you’re on fire from within,” she said.

Vibrio Vulnificus is in the same family as Cholera.

It attacks the immune system and can destroy feet, hands and anywhere there is an open wound.

“The only reason I still have my foot attached to me is because I got those early antibiotics in,” she said.

She was headed home to Austin with a dose of antibiotics, but they were not enough.

Michelle spent five days in the hospital, mostly in the ICU.

“It was unreal how quickly it came on,” O’Brien said.

Most cases of the bacteria happen between May and October because that’s when the water is warmest.

“People don’t realize it’s not just on oysters, this bacteria is in the water. If it were a small child or an older person or somebody that’s not in tip-top shape, it is absolutely deadly,” she said.

She says she is thankful for the second chance she has been given and will never look at the ocean the same way again.