Flesh-Eating Bacteria Outbreak Spreads in U.S.

A bacteria known as Vibrio vulnificus, sometimes called the “flesh-eating bacteria,” has caused deaths in different parts of the United States. This bacteria lives in warm water where rivers and oceans meet. It can enter the body through cuts, wounds, or even by eating raw seafood. So far this year, at least a dozen people have died from infections caused by this bacteria.

Flesh-Eating Bacteria Outbreak Spreads in U.S.

In Florida, five people died from Vibrio vulnificus infections. This bacteria was also responsible for three deaths in Connecticut and New York. It’s important to know that this kind of infection is rare. The bacteria can be found in raw or undercooked seafood, as well as saltwater and brackish water (a mix of fresh and salty water).

Infections caused by Vibrio vulnificus can be serious and even life-threatening. The bacteria can cause necrotizing fasciitis, which is a condition where the flesh around an infected area dies. This can lead to severe wound infections, and in some cases, amputations may be needed. About 1 in 5 people who get infected with this bacteria die from it.

Climate change and warming ocean waters have caused the bacteria to spread northward along the East Coast of the United States. This means that more people in different regions are at risk of coming into contact with this bacteria.

To prevent getting infected with Vibrio vulnificus, you can:

  1. Avoid going into saltwater or brackish water if you have a wound.
  2. Cover wounds with waterproof bandages if they might touch saltwater, brackish water, or raw seafood.
  3. Wash wounds thoroughly with soap and water if they come into contact with these substances.
  4. Avoid eating raw or undercooked seafood, especially oysters.

Common signs of infection can include watery diarrhea, stomach cramping, fever, and skin problems like blisters or redness. In severe cases, there can be dangerously low blood pressure and other serious symptoms.

It’s also worth noting that other cases of Vibrio vulnificus infections have been reported in different states, including North Carolina and Missouri, often related to exposure to saltwater or raw seafood.

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