Summer in the U.S. brings about a thriving environment for bacteria and viruses to spread.
That is the case of Florida state where a potentially deadly bacteria is already making its first victims for the year.
The bacteria is called Vibrio Vulnificus and is also known as a ‘flesh-eating’ bacteria due to the fact that it infects human tissue, leading in some cases to necrosis and even death if timely action is not taken.
So far, Florida state registered seven infections and two deaths caused by Vibrio Vulnificus according to the state Health Department.
However, chances that you get infected with the flesh-eating bacteria are quite dim, especially when talking about swimming in the seawater. Nonetheless, health authorities recommend caution to prevent infections with the Vibrio Vulnificus.
The most common way of contracting the flesh-eating bacteria is by handling or eating raw fish or insufficiently cooked, particularly raw shellfish.
In the marine environment where the bacteria is thriving, perfect conditions for it to reproduce come around with summer months, commonly during the period between May and October. In other words, the Vibrio Vulnificus is developing at full potential while temperatures register in between 68 and 95 degrees.
Direct skin contact with the bacteria is not as harmful as consuming raw fish. However, if one is to enter the salty water while having an open wound, then the risk of infection with the flesh-eating bacteria increases.
Last year Florida’s state Health Department reported 32 cases of infection with Vibrio Vulnificus, as well as seven death due to the infection.
Across the United States there were 90 infections with the bacteria in 2014, as well as 35 deaths attributed to the same cause. The reports came from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Statistically, while chances of infection are low, once contracted, the flesh-eating bacteria kills one in three people.
Vibrio takes its name of flesh-eating bacteria due to the fact that it enters the blood and causes skin lesions. If you have a weak immune system or suffer from chronic liver disease, the bacteria can cause more harm.
When ingested from raw fish, it leads to gastroenteritis and in some cases, septicemia. Contact through a direct wound may lead to necrosis and limb amputation.
According to CDC guidelines for protection, the main advises to follow are to avoid the exposure of any open wounds directly to warmed saltwater. Handle shellfish with care, particularly if it is raw.
And, cook the shellfish at sufficiently high temperatures and consume it immediately after cooking, without leaving leftovers.
Image Source: pinksole.com