‘Flesh-Eating’ Bacteria Cases Surge in Florida

Vibrio Vulnificus
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The ‘flesh-eating’ bacteria, Vibrio vulnificus has now claimed 8 lives and caused 20 infections across the state of Florida.

Since 2007, the states of Texas, California, and Florida have reported the most cases of Vibrio vulnificus. The waterborne bacteria can cause necrotizing fasciitis; hence, often called the ‘flesh-eating’ bacteria. Earlier this month, the Florida Department of Health reported 20 cases of the ‘flesh-eating’ bacteria from across several counties.

V. vulnificus naturally occurs in warm seawater and marine animals such as shellfish. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most Vibrio infections occur from eating raw or undercooked oysters. However, infections can also occur through open wounds. When wounds encounter warm seawater or brackish water (mixture of fresh and saltwater), they can become infected. Additionally, contact with juices or droppings of raw or undercooked seafood can also infect wounds. Healthy individuals mostly develop a mild infection. However, immunocompromised people can develop septicemia. 35% of these cases can result in death, while others may require limb amputations.

Ingestion of contaminated seafood causes diarrhoea, stomachache, fever, nausea, and vomiting in people. On the other hand, in cases of septicemia the patients experience fever, chills, blistering skin lesions, and septic shock. Infected wounds often result in cellulitis and necrosis that spreads to other parts of the body.

The CDC recommends that people with wounds, tattoos, and piercings avoid saltwater or brackish water. Additionally, they can use a waterproof bandage when entering marine environments. In case of contact, one must wash the wound with soap and water.

Most Deaths Since 2008

Since 2008, the state of Florida has reported a total of 125 deaths from V. vulnificus. Most cases and deaths occur during the months of May to October, due to warmer temperatures. This year the state has reported a total of eight deaths from the bacteria. Thus, making it the most deaths reported in Florida from V. vulnificus infections since 2018.

So far, the 20 cases have come from the following counties: Leon, Palm Beach, Santa Rosa, Duval, Escambia, Hernando, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Orange, Seminole and Taylor. Last year, Florida reported 36 cases and 7 deaths from the bacteria.

Source: Outbreak News Today


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