MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (WWSB) - A local woman hopes her story will bring about awareness to people swimming at area beaches, and to be watchful for no swim advisories.
Jeanette Edwards was diagnosed with a bacterial infection she thought could be a flesh eating bacteria after going in the water to rescue a bird at the Rod and Reel Pier on Anna Maria Island.
Edwards spends most of her free time rescuing sick and injured birds through her group, Friends of the Pelicans. She says her infection came as a surprise because she didn’t know there was a no swim advisory at the beach where she rescued a sick pelican.
“Never in all the times I’ve gone out, I’ve never had an infection that quickly and that severely,” says Edwards. :I’m just very thankful that after it happened I went on Facebook and saw that this beach where I had been was closed to swimming."
During a pelican rescue at the Rod and Reel Pier she cut her hand in the water not knowing the next afternoon her finger would look swollen and blistered.
“It got really sore and it pretty much doubled in size, my finger did. They treated it for vibrio. I think they caught it so early that it did not spread to my deep muscles or joints," says Edwards.
After this medical scare and then finding out the Bayfront Park North Beach in Manatee County was closed due to high levels of bacteria, Edwards is now sending a warning to all beachgoers to do their homework before going out.
“I think it’s really important for people to know before they get in the water if it’s been closed to swimming because there were no signs and there a lot of people in the water swimming all around," says Edwards.
Edwards says even after this her infection she will continue doing what she does and that’s rescuing sick and injuries birds through her group Friends of the Pelicans.
“If I had known that water was closed to swimming I’d probably would of gone after the pelican anyway. Ii’m kinda crazy about these birds; I love them. So, no I’m still going to be out there rescuing them,” says Edwards.