STOCKTON (CBS13) — A Stockton family is calling for consequences after their son, a 21-year-old army recruit, contracted a rare flesh-eating disease.
The family of Dez Del Barba says a lack of medical treatment at his army base led to their son’s condition.
Dez Del Barba has already gone through 14 surgeries, including one to amputate his left leg above the knee. The problem started during basic training at Fort Benning, Georgia with a simple sore throat. What happened next, according to his father, could have easily been prevented.
The Sonoma State student is suffering from necrotizing fasciitis, a rare flesh-eating bacterial infection that spreads quickly and can be deadly. According to the CDC, rapid antibiotic treatment and prompt surgery are key in stopping the infection in its tracks.
The Stockton native was six weeks into basic training with the Army when a sore throat led to a strep test, and a throat culture was sent off for a closer look.
The first test came back negative but another was positive for Strep A, according to medical records obtained by the Del Barba family. According to his father, Del Barba was never notified about the second result.
In a statement, Mark Del Barba said, “It’s the most heartbreaking feeling a parent can feel. My son’s life has been forever altered and his future as a soldier for the United States Army has been destroyed by pure negligence.”
Officials at Fort Benning also released a statement saying, “The safety and care of our soldiers and personnel at Fort Benning is our utmost concern. Sometimes the environment or high-risk training results in illness, injury, or sadly, even death.”
Doctors have had to remove large amounts of muscle and tissue, and Dez will soon be fitted for a prosthetic leg and start physical therapy.
His army class graduated March 21.