Beware What Lurks in the River!

Sometimes what’s in the river wants to eat you for dinner!
That’s my left hand.  I’ve been fishing a couple times in the last week and at one point had both hands in the Iowa River cleaning fish.  Within days, I broke out in a rash and, with each passing day, it increased in severity.  Initially, I blamed some discount jerky that had a nasty flavor.  It had been recalled for food allergy problems so I assumed the skin problem was due to something I ate – the new jerky.  After discontinuing the beef jerky, the rash worsened significantly.
Tonight I visited the University of Iowa Hospital.  One of the doctors was puzzled about what was causing the problems with the hands and arms.  A second doctor came in and asked me what I had been doing recently.  I told him fishing.  He confirmed that both hands had been in the river water.  It appears that I had picked up a bacteria that was enjoying having me for dinner.  Though not terribly common, he had seen that problem before, particularly in the spring of the year.  Such bacteria love diabetic people with weakened immune systems.  The treatment will be ten days of antibiotics (sulfameth/trimethoprim  800/160).
I have to admit to having been lazy with the post-fishing hygiene.  After the last fishing, I rinsed both hands off in the river and had eaten dinner.  Not a good idea though it’s never been a problem in all these years.  From now on I plan to use sanitizer following a soap and water washing.   
Hopefully none of you will have this same experience… It is annoying and a little uncomfortable.  

Have a good week!

About VanTrekker

I am a former vandweller in Eastern Iowa who, for several years (off and on), lived in a 2007 Chevy cargo van. I still travel around Iowa with my tortoise shell cat, Jennifer Stefanie. Our favorite place to explore is the Country Heritage Community, the four far northeastern counties of Iowa (Clayton, Winneshiek, Allamakee, and Fayette). Ride along as we fish in pristine trout streams, enjoy fine home cooked camping meals, and meet new people. It's all possible on a shoestring budget. Happy travels always! --- Brad, the "Van Trekker"
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6 Responses to Beware What Lurks in the River!

  1. Ash Nichols says:

    Wow, that’s something else! Did they say if this a bacteria only lives in the Iowa River?

  2. Brad says:

    Hi Ash,

    It’s a pretty common bacteria as I understand it and is not unique to just one body of water. It’s related to animal waste matter.

    We had a very warm, dry winter and then a couple inches of rain came quickly. It washed a lot of the yucky stuff out of the fields (farm chemicals and animal feces). Since the rivers were very low to begin with. the new water brought lots of nasty bacteria – similar to what you see when a flood goes through an area. I was suprised to find that Iowa has some of the dirtiest rivers in the US – much of it due to animal farms.

    Fortunately, the trout streams in NE Iowa are a lot cleaner and clearer. Perhaps that might be a better place to fish in the coming weeks. Trout sounds good right now!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Yikes…that looks awful an uncomfortable! Sorry and hope it clears up quickly!

  4. Wanderoke says:

    Wow, thank you for talking about this. I too, have just casually rinsed my hands in river water on the way to the dinner table.

    I won’t be doing that anymore.

    Glad that doctor knew what was up!

  5. Wolf says:

    Hope you get cured fast my VanDweller Brother !
    I am finally back home in Florida ….. yeahhhhhh !!!!

  6. Brad says:

    Hi Wolf! It’s good to hear from you. I’ll check and see if you’re blog is updated. I’m really glad that you’re having a good time in Florida. I’ve been there a couple of times and look forward to visiting again one day.

    The rash is improving slowly. I plan to get some gloves for the next fishing trip as well as something to sanitize with.