Vibrio Vulnificus is the name of the flesh-eating bacteria that infected 27 people in Texas.
The case that caught media’s attention was a 42 years old man whose fishing trip on Mustang Island ended with hospitalization.
The bacterium is found in coastal waters and spreads by ingesting uncooked shellfish or by contact with an open wound.
Last year, Vibrio Vulnificus infected no less than 102 people. There are no medical records on how many of them resulted in complications.
Experts in infectious diseases say that the Gulf of Mexico is generally safe and serious incidents are unusual. Even though the extreme cases are enjoyed by high media coverage, they are not as common as people think.
People should pay attention to signs of physical modifications and take general precautions on the beach, such as wearing sunscreen and avoiding jellyfish and men of war. Large fish kills and pollution should be enough indicators not to visit a particular beach.
Moreover, people having large flesh wounds are forbidden to enter the water.
The Vibrio Vulnificus infection appears especially in individuals who are working on boats and docks. Fishhook injuries, fish or shellfish spine puncture, wade fishing abrasions, and barnacle cuts are more dangerous than a common swim in the Gulf.
Almost all infections that can be contracted in the water are connected to skin trauma.
The most effective prevention is showering immediately after leaving the water. Antibacterial soaps are also useful.
Persons that observe skin infections should be looking for medical attention and should inform physicians that they had been exposed to marine waters, in order for them to get prescriptions with the correct medication.
As to the risk of contracting the bacteria while eating, people should be careful when eating oysters, crabs, and shrimps that have a preparation method that is not sufficient to protect against microorganisms. The individuals who should take extra care are the ones who have liver disease, arthritis, leukemia or lymphoma.
Bacteria thrive in warm waters. Thus infections are prevalent during spring and summer, which coincides with the beginning of the swimming season. Quite contrary to the belief that fresh river water can wash away microorganisms, it can bring new nutrients to bacteria and favor their appearance.
Medical experts agree that the only way to avoid being infected with the flesh-eating Vibrio Vulnificus bacteria is to take proper prevention measures, which include the showers after being in the water and asking professional help if any signs of skin infection may occur.
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