"My life changed within one moment," said Bruce Kagan, 68, after having his leg amputated to stop the disease from spreading

By Claudia Harmata
August 08, 2019 05:17 PM

In June, Bruce Kagan decided to go for a swim at Connecticut’s popular Hammonasset Beach State Park, not thinking twice about a small cut on his right leg he had received at work.

But after falling severely ill, on June 30 he was taken to the Hospital of Central Connecticut in New Britain, where he found out that he had contracted necrotizing fasciitis — a flesh-eating bacteria.

“It’s all because of a little cut. It’s all it was, a little cut. Nothing more,” Kagan told NBC Connecticut.

Doctors attempted multiple surgeries on Kagan to save his leg from the deadly parasite but on August 1 they decided to amputate above the knee to stop the bacteria from spreading further.

RELATED: Maryland Man Contracted Flesh-Eating Bacteria Through ‘Simple Cut’ During a Trip to Virginia

“My life changed within one moment, saying, ‘Yeah, it’s going to be okay.’ Next moment, ‘We don’t know if you’re going to be okay,’ ” the 68-year-old told the outlet.

“All I can say is that I am by far one of the luckiest men in the whole world, by far,” Kagan added. “I don’t know how I made it, but I did.”

Kagan’s encounter with flesh-eating bacteria is just one of many that have occurred this summer, because the parasite thrives in warmer waters.

While most reported cases occur in the southern part of the Eastern Seaboard, the flesh-eating bacteria is spreading north because of climate change, a new study found.

RELATED: Here’s All the Places Where People Have Reported Contracting Flesh-Eating Bacteria in 2019

Martin Schwartz/PEOPLE

“We believe that clinicians should be aware of the possibility that V. vulnificus infections are occurring more frequently outside traditional geographic areas,” the authors wrote in the report, according to CBS.

Dr. Joseph Glassford Garner of the Hospital of Central Connecticut told NBC that while the disease is rare, he has noticed a rise in cases of the bacteria.

“I do know over the decade we have more people who are immune compromised,” Glassford told the outlet.

Kagan’s family has started a GoFundMe page and are asking for any donation to help cover medical costs, Kagan’s rehabiliation, prosthetic costs, and living costs.

While cases of the tissue-destroying infection increase in the summer, the disease is very rare. Chances of contracting it are slim, especially if you’re healthy and have a strong immune system, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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