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Orlando man dies from flesh-eating bacteria. He thought it was the flu.

Doctors had operated on David Ireland multiple times, removing more than 25 percent of his skin in hopes of stopping the disease, a family member said.
David Ireland, left, pictured with his family in a Facebook photo, died early Thursday after contracting a flesh-eating bacteria last week, his family said. [COURTESY OF THE IRELAND FAMILY | via Miami Herald]

A Florida man who contracted a flesh-eating bacteria last week died early Thursday, his family said.

RELATED STORY: Flesh-eating bacteria in Florida waters: Three things you need to know.

David Ireland, 50, thought at first he had the flu, his brother Daniel Ireland said. But doctors quickly realized it was an aggressive flesh-eating bacteria causing the symptoms.

Doctors operated on Ireland multiple times, removing more than 25 percent of his skin in hopes of stopping the disease, his brother said in a phone interview earlier this week.

But on Thursday, Daniel Ireland said in an email that David died in the early-morning hours.

In a GoFundMe campaign set up to help the family, Daniel Ireland wrote, “He fought very hard against this disease and all of us will miss him dearly.”

RELATED STORY: Why is flesh-eating bacteria on the rise? Some point to climate change.

David Ireland had two young daughters, 4 and 7. He worked at Universal Studios in Orlando, where his wife is also employed.

The family doesn’t know how David Ireland contracted the disease, called necrotizing fasciitis. His brother said David didn’t go in the ocean or swim in lakes, but did use the pool at his condo in Orlando.

RELATED STORY: Another case of flesh-eating bacteria sends Tarpon Springs fisherman to the hospital

Necrotizing fasciitis, an aggressive flesh-eating disease, has similar symptoms to many other infections, so it can be difficult to diagnose in the earliest stages, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Since necrotizing fasciitis can spread so rapidly, patients often must get surgery done very quickly,” the CDC says.

— Charles Duncan