Health Officials Warn Of Flesh-Eating Bacteria In The United States

Matt Lillywhite

A deadly strain of flesh-eating bacteria called Vibrio Vulnificus has been found in Texas, Florida, and several other places around the United States. According to the National Institute of Health, the fatality rate can be as high as 33%.

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Are you planning on going for a swim anytime soon? Health experts are concerned about the presence of flesh-eating bacteria in waters along the Gulf Coast. It's called Vibrio Vulnificus and is present in salty water (such as the ocean) and also raw seafood. But if the bacteria gets into your body, the consequences can be horrifying. Quoting Dr. Alfred Scott Lea, Professor of Infectious Disease at UTMB Galveston:

"Amputation happens in about half of the patients even in the best of hands, and then people can die from it. The worst thing is that it's so rapidly progressive it will pop up and kill a person within 24 hours if you are not careful. So it's an extremely aggressive infection that people get in the summer."

A 61-year old fisherman recently died after contracting the flesh-eating bacteria on the Texas Gulf Coast. He sadly passed away after experiencing organ failure and sepsis—a life-threatening disease that happens when the body's reaction to an infection destroys its own tissues.

The CDC says symptoms of Vibrio Vulnificus infection can include:

  • 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).

If you have any symptoms and have recently come into contact with saltwater or raw seafood, it might be worth talking to your doctor. Also, if you have an open wound from an injury, piercing, or tattoo, cover it with a waterproof bandage to prevent the wound from coming into contact with harmful bacteria.

According to Galveston County Health District, "People who suffer cuts while in natural bodies of water anywhere should immediately leave the water, thoroughly clean the wound, and do not return until the wound heals. It's important to keep an eye on the area for infection or swelling. If either occurs, medical attention should be obtained immediately."

Are you concerned about emerging diseases? Leave a comment with your thoughts.

This article is for informational purposes only. It should not be considered health advice. Therefore, please consult a doctor before making any significant medical decisions.

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