(Meredith/WDHN/CNN) -- A Georgia man said he contracted a flesh-eating infection after visiting a Florida beach with his family.

Tony Meredith, of Colquitt, said he developed flu-like symptoms five days after returning home from Panama City Beach.

As his condition worsened, Meredith said his leg began to swell and turn purple in color. He eventually went to Southeast Health, where doctors diagnosed him with necrotizing fasciitis.

According to the CDC, the bacterial infection can spread very quickly and even cause death. Necrotizing fasciitis, which is often found in water, most commonly enters the body through a break in the skin.

Meredith believes he contracted the infection through a barely noticeable scratch below his knee.

“The skin is the body’s most important barrier to infection,” Dr. Andrew Sawyer told WDHN. “Any violation of that skin, even something as small as a scratch has the potential to increase the potential for waterborne infection.”

Meredith said he hopes other beach-goers will be more cautious after hearing his story. 

“Anybody that’s going to the beach, they need to really, really be real cautious before getting in the sand or the water,” he said. “I never thought it would happen to me.”

To learn more about necrotizing fasciitis, click here.

Information from WDHN via CNN Newsource contributed to this story.

Copyright 2019 Meredith Corporation. All rights reserved. 

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