Florida father suffering from flesh-eating disease has over one quarter of his skin removed

A Florida father of two is fighting for his life after he contracted a flesh-eating disease from an unknown source, his family says.

David Ireland, 50, began experiencing flu-like symptoms last week and was admitted to an Orlando emergency room before being diagnosed with necrotizing fasciitis and rushed into an operating room.

The rare, life-threatening bacterial infection is often referred to as a "flesh-eating" disease, as it quickly and aggressively kills the body's soft tissue.

Ireland has undergone three surgeries to remove more than 25 percent of his skin, according to a GoFundMe started by his brother, Daniel, a South Carolina police officer.

Daniel told the Miami Herald the family remains uncertain of how Ireland contracted the bacteria, which is frequently found in warm, brackish waters, adding that while his brother uses the pool at his Orlando condominium, he does not frequent the beach.

Thankfully, Daniel said doctors were able to diagnose his brother before the disease had spread to his deep tissue, which is key in the successful treatment of the often-deadly disease.

"It's not a death sentence yet," Daniel told the Herald.

Although Daniel says his brother's kidneys have failed, he wrote on GoFundMe that his "blood pressure and acid numbers from his liver are starting to level off, showing a hopeful sign of recovery."

The family is currently seeking donations to cover Ireland's hospital bills, as well as living expenses for his wife, Jody Ireland, and their two young daughters, Ruth and Rebekah.

Photo: GoFundMe

In a statement posted to the fundraiser, Jody expressed gratitude to those who have given money and provided an update on her husband's health.

"David is still in a life-threatening situation but there are some small victories every day," she wrote. "I miss my best friend very much and pray every day that God will spare his life and bring him back home to me and our children. My life isn't the same without him so really praying for a miracle."

Earlier this summer, a report published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine suggested a flesh-eating bacteria called Vibrio vulnificus may be spreading to regions previously non-endemic to the microorganism due to unusually warm waters.

The bacteria, which causes necrotizing fasciitis, has an extremely high mortality rate, and accurate diagnosis, rapid antibiotic administration and prompt surgery are extremely important in successful treatment, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

Early symptoms of the disease, which can be spread through seawater or even undercooked seafood, include fever, dizziness or nausea soon after an injury or surgery, according to the CDC. Those who believe they may have been infected are urged to seek immediate treatment.