As he has for years, Josh Redding took advantage of a recent warm weekend to go wakeboarding in the Delta.
The 28-year-old Galt resident woke up the next morning and noticed that his leg was sore and slightly swollen.
"I went through the day thinking it would get better. I mowed the yard, did normal things," he said.
It didn't get better.
Within days, the Lodi police officer found himself with IVs attached to his body in a hospital, where he spent four days. Doctors diagnosed him with a particular staph infection that's notorious for its ability to withstand antibiotics.
The infection's long name is Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureusor, though most doctors and patients simply use the MRSA acronym. It infects the blood and, if left untreated, leads to pneumonia and even death.
After pumping a number of antibiotics through his body, Redding is no longer a fan of the Delta. He's even thinking of selling his boat, because he doesn't want anything similar happening to his 4-year-old son.
MRSA was originally confined to nursing homes and hospitals, but it has now become so common in everyday environments that the Centers for Disease Control has a whole section of its Web site dedicated to the infection.
"We have a lot of people devoting a lot of time to MRSA," said Shelly Diaz, a spokeswoman for the Atlanta-based CDC.
In hospitals and nursing homes, 1.7 million people contract MRSA annually, resulting in 98,987 deaths each year, Diaz said.
The biggest problem, Diaz and other health officials said, is that the infection is immune to many forms of antibiotics.
"We used to treat it with common antibiotics, but now we've switched to having to assume that you've got a resistant strain," said Richard Buys, director of the emergency department at San Joaquin General Hospital.
"It's sort of the bind we've gotten ourselves into by having antibiotics out there and so commonly used, that it's building up a resistance," Buys added.
There are no specific statistics on the infection's spread because it is not among a variety of diseases and illnesses - such as TB - that health care providers must report to the CDC.
The instances of MRSA have likely risen in San Joaquin County, but there's no way of backing it up with solid data, said Dr. Karen Furst, health officer for the county.
As for whether the Delta is hazardous, Furst pointed out that MRSA is typically transferred through contact. However, she added, any public waterway has the potential to cause problems.
"Natural waterways are not swimming pools where the water is chlorinated and filtered, and it is very possible for people to get infections, especially if they have scrapes or open wounds," Furst said.
• Keep cuts and scrapes clean and covered with a bandage until healed.
• Avoid contact with other people's wounds or bandages.
• Avoid sharing personal items such as towels or razors.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, http://cdc.gov/ncidod/dhqp/ar_mrsa_ca.html
Redding, who graduated from high school in Stockton and played football at Humboldt State University, is no stranger to outdoor recreation. Additionally, he daily trains a dog that will soon join him on patrol.
So when he slipped on a rock and scraped his leg while fishing, Redding didn't think much of it. A week later, he went wakeboarding and the next day - a Monday - his troubles began.
By that Tuesday, Redding couldn't put any weight on his leg and went to a doctor, who diagnosed MRSA and started Redding on three kinds of antibiotics. The doctor ordered Redding to light duty when he went back to work that Wednesday, and his limp was very obvious.
Two days later, things still weren't right.
"I'd been noticing that my leg was continuing to swell and getting more and more red, so I went back to the doctor. The second he sees it he tells I need to be admitted to the hospital to start antibiotics," Redding said.
He was admitted to Lodi Memorial Hospital that Friday at noon, where he spent the better part of the next four days.
The experience was enough to turn Redding into a person who now warns others about the hazards of dangerous bacteria.