Surge of Flesh-Eating Bacteria: What Alabamians Need to Know
Have you heard of Vibrio and Vibrio vulnificus? The CDC says Vibrio, especially Vibrio vulnificus, poses a life-threatening risk as it can cause severe infections, including necrotizing fasciitis (flesh-eating bacteria). When Vibrio causes an infection in humans it is called "Vibriosis."
The Vibrio bacteria typically inhabit specific coastal waters and thrive in greater numbers during the warmer months, specifically between May and October.
Springer Nature, a research company has linked the warming climate to an increase in Vibrio vulnificus infections in North America.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued information about the life-threatening bacteria.
“Many people with Vibrio vulnificus infection require intensive care or limb amputations," the CDC says, "and about 1 in 5 people with this infection die, sometimes within a day or two of becoming ill."
You can contract the Vibrio infection from eating raw or undercooked oysters and other seafood. Also, by coming into contact with the vibrio bacteria in saltwater and brackish water.
“Vibriosis causes an estimated 80,000 illnesses and 100 deaths in the United States every year,” the CDC said.
Signs and Symptoms of Vibrio vulnificus Infection from the CDC:
Watery diarrhea, often accompanied by stomach cramping, nausea, vomiting, and fever
For bloodstream infection: fever, chills, dangerously low blood pressure, and blistering skin lesions
For wound infection, which may spread to the rest of the body: fever, redness, pain, swelling, warmth, discoloration, and discharge (leaking fluids).
CDC’s Prevention Tips:
Don’t eat raw or undercooked oysters or other shellfish. Cook them before eating.
Always wash your hands with soap and water after handling raw shellfish.
Avoid contaminating cooked shellfish with raw shellfish and its juices.
Stay out of salt water or brackish water if you have a wound (including from a recent surgery, piercing, or tattoo), or cover your wound with a waterproof bandage if there’s a possibility it could come into contact with salt water or brackish water, raw seafood, or raw seafood juices. Brackish water is a mixture of fresh and salt water. It is often found where rivers meet the sea.
Wash wounds and cuts thoroughly with soap and water if they have been exposed to seawater or raw seafood or its juices.
If you develop a skin infection, tell your medical provider if your skin has come into contact with salt water or brackish water, raw seafood, or raw seafood juices.
If you are in a group more likely to get vibriosis:
Wear clothes and shoes that can protect you from cuts and scrapes when in salt water or brackish water.
Wear protective gloves when handling raw seafood.
Diagnosis and Treatment Information from the CDC:
Infection is diagnosed when Vibrio bacteria are found in the wound, blood, or stool (poop) of an ill person. The infection is treated with antibiotics. Doctors may need to amputate a patient’s legs or arms to remove dead or infected tissue.
Those needing additional information can click here for more from CDC.