November 26, 2022

Flesh-eating bacteria infections on the rise in Florida

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(CNN) — Infections with a rare “flesh-eating” bacterium, also known as flesh-eating bacteria or vibriosis, in Florida have increased in the days following Hurricane Ian due to catastrophic flooding from the storm.

There have been 65 cases of infection by Vibrio vulnificus and 11 deaths in the state this year as of Friday, according to the Florida Department of Health, up from 34 cases and 10 deaths reported statewide in 2021.

Many of the infections are in Lee County. Ian made landfall as a Category 4 storm on September 28 in Lee County, which includes Fort Myers and Sanibel Island in southwest Florida.

The Florida Department of Health in Lee County warned the residents about the risks of Vibrio vulnificus On October 3rd.

“As the post-storm situation evolves, DOH-Lee urges the public to take precautions against infection and illness caused by Vibrio vulnificusspokeswoman Tammy Soliz told CNN in an email on Tuesday.

“DOH-Lee is seeing an abnormal increase in cases of COVID-19 infections. Vibrio vulnificus as a result of exposure to flooding and standing water after Hurricane Ian. As of September 29, 2022, 26 cases of Vibrio vulnificus associated with Hurricane Ian. All 26 cases had infectious wounds due to exposure to Hurricane Ian floodwaters that occurred from storm surge entering their homes or during post-storm cleanup. There have been six deaths among Lee County residents.”

Before the storm, there were two cases of Vibrio vulnificus in Lee County and 37 cases in the state, according to data from the Florida Department of Health.

“What we are seeing with our trends is that cases are actually going down. [desde la tormenta]which is a very good thing,” Florida Department of Health spokesman Jae Williams said Tuesday.

Vibrio vulnificus is a naturally occurring bacteria that lives in warm salt water and infects humans through the consumption of undercooked shellfish and broken skin.

Infections are “very prevalent with flooding,” Williams said. Ian “brought an astronomical record amount of flooding. Not all hurricanes bring that kind of flooding.”

The Florida Department of Health posted flood safety information before, during and after the storm through social media posts and radio announcements, Williams said. The informational page warns people with open wounds and cuts to avoid skin contact with flood waters.

Symptoms of vibrio infection, or vibriosis, include watery diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, fever, and chills. Treatment is not always needed and severe illness is rare, but doctors prescribe antibiotics in the most persistent cases, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In extreme cases, the bacteria can cause blood infections, blistering skin lesions, amputations, or death.

Vibriosis causes approximately 80,000 illnesses and 100 deaths in the United States each year. says the CDC on its website.

People at highest risk of serious illness and death from Vibrio vulnificus they are those with a weakened immune system or those with liver disease, according to the CDC.



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