FACT CHECK: Did Alabama Power Caution People Against Swimming In Lewis Smith Lake Due To Flesh-Eating Bacteria?

Trevor Schakohl | Fact Check Reporter

An image shared on Facebook purportedly shows an Alabama Power press release warning people to avoid swimming in the state’s Lewis Smith Lake because of flesh-eating bacteria.

Verdict: False

The press release is fake. Alabama Power has called the document a “scam.”

Fact Check:

In the viral June 28 Facebook post, a supposed press release from Alabama Power claims that “Necrotizing Fasciitis (flesh eating bacteria) has significantly increased at Lewis Smith Lake” and that the utility company has “asked that all boaters and swimmers stay out of the water for their own safety.” Lewis Smith Lake is a reservoir in Alabama’s Walker, Winston and Cullman counties, according to the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

“Due to these findings we are asking owners and visitors to avoid contact with the water if all possible,” the alleged notice goes on to say. “Water Skiing, swimming and other water activities are highly discouraged and water patrols have been notified to look for boaters and swimmers endangering themselves.”

The press release is not genuine. Alabama Power has not published the document on its website or its social media accounts, and local media outlets have not reported on high levels of the flesh-eating bacteria being found in Lewis Smith Lake this month.

Rather, Alabama Power issued a statement June 29 calling it “fake,” as well as clarifying Lewis Smith Lake “and the rest of its lakes around Alabama are open as normal.”

The fake press release is signed with the name “Anthony Gotchagain.” Some social media users appear to have not noticed that detail, sharing the document as if it was authentic. (RELATED: Viral Post Falsely Claims Coronavirus Is A Bacterium ‘Easily’ Treated With Aspirin And Coagulants)

Necrotizing fasciitis, a condition caused by flesh-eating bacteria, is rare, but it spreads rapidly and can be fatal, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The agency emphasizes the importance of “accurate diagnosis, rapid antibiotic treatment, and prompt surgery” in addressing the infection.

Trevor Schakohl

Fact Check Reporter
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