Florida is facing a rare flesh eating bacteria threat, health officials explain, as they caution residents and tourists to steer away from shellfish and swimming in warm saltwater.
Vibrio vulnificus is a potentially fatal flesh eating bacteria that flourishes in warm saltwater and multiplies exponentially between May and October when water temperature are at their highest. Health officials explain that the bacteria has already been incriminated in seven infections and two deaths this year alone in the Sunshine State.
The bacteria thrives at temperatures of 68 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit and since 2014, a total of 32 cases were reported in Florida alone.
Infections occur when people consume raw shellfish, Maria Burger, Florida Health Department spokeswoman states. But aside from consuming the potentially deadly bacteria, people can also be exposed to large populations of the bacteria when swimming in warm saltwater. Open wounds and scratches represent breaches in our body’s security where bacteria can easily hitch a ride into the bloodstream.
“People with open wounds can be exposed to Vibrio vulnificus through direct contact with seawater.”
When infected with the bacteria (upon consuming it), Vibrio vulnificus causes gastroenteritis and may have grave manifestations such as septicemia (severe infection of the blood).
If the infection occurs via a skin breach (such as cuts, scratches or open wounds), the bacteria causes the injury to become necrotic. The tissue in the close proximity of the wound begins dying off and the bacteria consumes progressively more healthy tissue until amputation is the only efficient measure of saving the patient’s life.
Make sure to respect the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendations regarding flesh eating bacteria. Ideally, avoid all contact with warm saltwater, especially when you’ve been cut or have open wounds. Steer clear of raw shellfish and only consume such produce if it has been thoroughly cooked and has not been contaminated with raw seafood juices.
Image Source: Destination 360
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