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Letters to the editor; readers share their opinions

August 12, 2018

Flesh-eating bacteriacan harm SE TexansDon’t think it can’t happen to you. It happened recently to a best friend of mine whom I have hunted and fished with for the last 50 years or so.He was fishing in Keith Lake in the latter part of May, and while loading his boat, he slipped on the slime on the boat ramp and scraped his leg on the concrete. He thought nothing of it that evening.By the next morning, his leg was hurting, and by midday it was swollen to double its normal size and was turning purple, and he was becoming delirious. His wife called an ambulance and he was taken to the Medical Center of Southeast Texas, where he was diagnosed with sepsis due to vibrio vulnificus (flesh-eating bacteria).That night they put him in an induced coma and on a ventilator and massive doses of antibiotics and began to drain the infected leg. The surgeon told his family that he had about a 50-50 chance of surviving. After three days and multiple surgeries, his condition continued to worsen, so on the fourth day he was life-flighted to Methodist Hospital in Houston, where they have more experience with this kind of trauma.The doctors continued to fight to save his leg and his life, but after about a week they had to amputate his leg above the knee to save his life from the spreading infection. He stayed in an induced coma and on a ventilator for about a month while they did a number of additional surgeries on the stump to remove pockets of infection.After they got the infection cleared up, my friend stayed several more weeks in rehab there, and finally got to go home in mid-July. He is getting his strength back and adjusting to a new way of life, waiting to be fitted with a prosthetic leg so he can get back in action.Everyone who fishes or otherwise comes in contact with brackish waters of the marshes, lakes and bayous along the Gulf Coast should be aware of the danger of contact with vibrio vulnificus, especially if they have cuts or sores so the bacteria can enter the bloodstream. It can kill you.Norman Butler, Port NechesNew health plans offerinnovative alternativesFreelancers and members of the “gig” economy have a new, if underreported, health care option. Recently the Trump Administration expanded what are known as “Association Health Plans.” (AHPs).These plans are simple: They allow small business owners and employees to band together to negotiate lower health care costs. For the first time ever, they are available to sole proprietors, which make up about 85 percent of the country’s small businesses.This gives entrepreneurs an escape from individual health care exchanges, where premiums doubled between 2013 and 2017, according to Health and Human Services, and are set to nearly double again over the next three years.Expanded AHPs will jumpstart the nation’s depressed start-up rate by eliminating the current health care cost disincentive. Look for them being offered by your local chamber of commerce or national trade association.Kalena Bruce, Stockton, Mo.

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