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Deadly flesh-eating bacteria at Florida beach became Popular

Discussion in 'Microbiology' started by Hala, Aug 21, 2014.

  1. Hala

    Hala Golden Member Verified Doctor

    Oct 17, 2013
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    Some vacationers have been getting more than they bargained for during visits to the beach and pools this summer. Vibrio vulnificus – a warm water-dwelling, flesh eating bacteria – has infected more than a dozen people this year, some of whom have succumbed.

    According to a report conducted by the environmental group, cases of Vibrio vulnificus more than doubled in the last decade in Virginia and Maryland, a period during which seawater temperatures in the region increased by half of a degree Fahrenheit. The study also identified the increasing presence of mercury, nitrates, and blue green algae in warm bodies of water.

    Symptoms of Vibrio vulnificus include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, ulcers and the breakdown of skin. People usually come into contact with the bacteria by consuming raw shellfish and swimming in water with open wounds. While healthy people often experience mild symptoms, people with weakened immune systems have cause for concern, especially those who suffer from liver disease.

    Studies have shown that risk of Vibrio vulnificus exposure in people with preexisting medical conditions were 30 percent higher than the general population. People who contract Vibrio vulnificus through open wounds may also need amputation to ensure recovery. This week, officials in Florida advised residents against taking dips into water with open wounds and consuming raw oysters and clams after Vibrio vulnificus killed three people in the state.

    Unfortunately, Vibrio vulnificus is not the first warm water-dwelling bacteria to wreak havoc on swimmers and marine animals. Last summer, officials in Hartford, Connecticut issued a recall of oysters and clams after more than five people reported seafood-related illnesses. The state’s Bureau of Agriculture later linked the illnesses to a warm water-dwelling bacteria, prompting a suspension of shellfish harvests until the fall, when seawater was expected to cool down.

    The Strain :


    The deadly Vibrio vulnificus bacteria is found in warm saltwater and people with open wounds or low immune systems are most at risk.

    Doctors said once a person has been infected with the bacteria there is little that can be done to save them. Health officials said 32 people have already contracted the bacteria leading to 10 deaths. In 2012 there were 145 incidents of infection in Florida with smaller numbers in other states.

    Lovers of seafood, in particular oysters, are also at risk.

    "A person can contract the virus by eating tainted raw shell fish and oysters," said Pamela Crane, a spokesman for the Florida Department of Health.

    "People who swim in seawater who have open wounds are also vulnerable to the bacteria."

    The virus can cause vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain, but is especially dangerous with those with a weaker immune system, especially in people with chronic liver disease.

    The bacteria can get into the bloodstream and cause life-threatening illnesses.

    Vibrio vulnificus is a strain occurring naturally in the Gulf of Mexico that breaks down waste matter, including oil. It is most prevalent in the summer when the water is warm and salinity high.


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