Six-year-old recovering from serious infection after swim in local beach


NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) – A Newport News mother tells 8News sister station WAVY that her young child developed a serious bacterial infection after swimming at a local beach.

Nicole Sullivan says her 6-year-old daughter, Bella, started developing a rash on her face Sunday, one day after swimming at Huntington Park Beach.

“By Tuesday, she woke up and both eyes were completely swollen, her face was just enormously puffy, and her neck had the rash on it and her arms.”

Sullivan took her daughter to urgent care, where she was diagnosed with Impetigo, a highly contagious infection caused by staph bacteria.

“Just seeing her like that is heartbreaking for me because I know she’s in pain and I know she’s trying to push through.”

Sullivan, who’s a nurse, says that Bella had a small scrape on one cheek when she went swimming. She believes that’s how the bacteria manifested.

After taking steroids, a shot of antibiotics, oral antibiotics and pain killers, Bella is finally recovering.

“She’s still remaining joyful and trying to smile and make her sisters happy.”

Twice this year, swimming advisories were issued at Huntington Park Beach. The most recent advisory was lifted on June 8, days before Bella went swimming.

“I hope that this story just raises awareness to take it seriously,” Sullivan says. “And not just for the parents but for the people testing the water to make sure that they’re testing, and if they notice anything, that they make sure that the advisory is out there.”

Environmental officials sample the water on a weekly basis from May to September.

The Peninsula Health District wants to remind beachgoers to keep the following guidelines in mind this summer:

  • Do not swim in water that looks stagnant, muddy or smells unpleasant.
  • Avoid swallowing river, stream, lake or other recreational water.
  • Prevent direct contact between broken skin and recreational water.
  • Avoid swimming in natural water bodies (rivers, streams, lakes, etc.) for several days after a heavy rainfall.

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