Water-based infection turns longtime tourist away from SWFL

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SANIBEL, Fla. — A man from the United Kingdom who’s visited Southwest Florida with his family at least once a year for the past decade said he contracted a staph infection from a recent swim off Sanibel and won’t be coming back unless ongoing water problems are fixed.

James Bellows said a doctor told him he had a water-based staph infection and warned him against swimming anywhere north of Naples. Lee County is under a state of emergency because of murky water flowing down the Caloosahatchee River.

“All this horrible, greeny pus started oozing out of my leg,” Bellows said.

A woman earlier this week said she picked up a life-threatening infection from contaminated water near Fort Myers Beach. Still, no health warnings have been issued for the county’s beaches.

“We are shocked as a family to travel three and a half, four thousand miles to what we deem as paradise and to come and find brown, smelly water,” Bellows said.

The Army Corps of Engineers has reduced the water flows out of Lake Okeechobee in an effort to improve water quality in Southwest Florida as well as on the east coast, where issues are more profound. Florida Power and Light agreed to store 2 billion gallons of water per month for at least three months, the South Florida Water Management District announced Friday.

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