CDC: Beware Flesh-Eating Bacteria In Hurricane Idalia Floodwaters


                                                              By Marc Lallanilla

People who value their flesh are being warned to steer clear of Hurricane Idalia floodwaters in Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas.

Officials are warning residents that hurricane flooding has spread the flesh-eating bacteria known as Vibrio vulnificus to inland regions where it isn’t usually a threat.

A Vibrio infection can cause necrosis — the death of living tissue like skin — and sepsis, a severe blood infection, both of which can lead to limb amputations and death.

Flesh-eating bacteria “shouldn’t be taken lightly,” said Florida Department of Health press secretary Jae Williams.

“It needs to be treated with proper respect — the same way we respect alligators and rattlesnakes,” Williams added.

Health officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued a nationwide alert as warm coastal waters are the ideal environment for the bacteria to spread.

“About 150-200 V. vulnificus infections are reported to CDC each year,” the agency stated in a news release, “and about one in five people with this infection die — sometimes within 1-2 days of becoming ill.”

So far this year, V. vulnificus infections have killed 11 people: five in Florida, two in Connecticut, three in North Carolina and one Long Island resident.

Roughly 100 cases of V. vulnificus are reported in the US each year, but because people with mild infections aren’t tested, the actual number isn’t known. About a third of the reported cases are fatal.

“While rare, the Vibrio bacteria has unfortunately made it to this region and can be extraordinarily dangerous,” New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said in a news release.

“As we investigate further, it is critical that all New Yorkers stay vigilant and take responsible precautions to keep themselves and their loved ones safe,” Hochul added.

The Vibrio bacteria can enter the body through raw or undercooked shellfish, or through a cut in the skin. Even a tiny cut, such as a recent tattoo or piercing, can lead to an infection.

Vibriosis — the disease caused by a Vibrio infection — can rapidly lead to sepsis, shock and large blisters that destroy body tissue, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

Symptoms can appear quickly — usually within 24 hours of exposure to the bacteria — and can include fever, chills, skin redness or rash, fluid-filled blisters, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, confusion and a fast heart rate.

Antibiotics can cure vibriosis, especially if the disease is caught early. In severe cases, amputation of diseased limbs may be required.

Vibriosis causes death in about 20% of cases. People with pre-existing conditions such as liver disease, who are over the age of 40 or have compromised immune systems are more likely to have severe complications.


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