MIAMI (CBSMiami/CNN) – A trip to Panama City Beach nearly turned deadly for a Georgia man after he contracted flesh-eating bacteria.

For the Meredith family, a trip to the popular beach town was an annual tradition for some fun in the sun. But this time, things almost turned deadly for father Tony Meredith.

“I could have cost my leg or my life,” he said.

Panama City Beach (CNN)

Meredith said it started off with flu-like symptoms that appeared around five days after he got back. But as he got worse, Meredith began seeking medical care.

“Dr. Hewitt, I think it was, had told me it was a type of strep, but then on Tuesday, when he’d come and seen me, he told me it was the flesh-eating kind,” he said.

Meredith had necrotizing fasciitis which had seeped into a barely noticeable scratch below his knee while he was in the water.

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

Meredith said after his experience, any beachgoer should be aware of the risks.

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

Meredith got treated in time at a hospital in Alabama, he’s now on the road to recovery. This was the first confirmed case this year in Panama City Beach.

(©2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company, contributed to this report.)

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