Flesh-eating bacteria claims lives in Florida, New York, and Connecticut

In recent months, the Vibrio vulnificus bacteria, commonly known as the flesh-eating bacteria, has caused a number of deaths in various parts of the United States. According to the Florida Department of Health, five people in the Tampa, Florida area have died from the bacteria, while three others in Connecticut and New York have also succumbed to the infection. The bacteria can be found in raw or undercooked seafood, as well as in warm water where river and ocean waters mix. It can enter the body through a cut, scrape, or wound. In some cases, raw seafood consumption has also been linked to infections.

Officials in New York and Connecticut are still investigating how the individuals in their states were infected. Health experts emphasize that such severe infections are rare, but warn that those who are immunocompromised or have underlying health conditions are particularly at risk. The bacteria, which cannot penetrate intact skin, causes necrotizing fasciitis if it enters through an existing break in the skin. This condition leads to the death of flesh around the infection site.

The Vibrio vulnificus bacteria is naturally present in warm, salty water and is always present in water. However, warmer waters due to climate change have led to an increase in infections and the migration of the bacteria northwards along the East Coast. Researchers have found that infections have increased eight-fold between 1988 and 2018 in the U.S. Cases used to be concentrated mostly in the Gulf of Mexico, but now they are spreading to other regions.

To reduce the risk of infection, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends avoiding saltwater or brackish water if you have a wound, covering wounds with waterproof bandages when in contact with water or seafood, washing wounds thoroughly with soap and water if they come into contact with water or seafood, and avoiding the consumption of raw or undercooked seafood.

It is important to note that Vibrio vulnificus infections are still relatively rare, and not everyone who comes into contact with the bacteria will develop an infection. However, taking precautions and following the CDC's recommendations can help minimize the risk of infection.


More from Press Rundown