CDC Warns About Flesh-Eating Bacteria

( – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is warning doctors to be aware of a deadly flesh-eating bacteria in the waters near the Gulf of Mexico and East Coast. Vibrio vulnificus or V.vulnificus is a naturally occurring bacteria in coast waters and can be transmitted by open wounds or by eating uncooked or raw shellfish.

There is only a short period before symptoms appear, resulting in many victims suffering a severe infection requiring extensive tissue debridement or amputation. The bacteria will eat away the flesh of the initial area and spread quickly, killing nearby healthy tissue and skin.

The summer season has produced warmer-than-average sea temperatures that is allowing the bacteria to grow uninhibited, and while people are seeking to cool down from the weather in these waters, it’s become a loop of infection for many areas.

This bacteria causes an estimated 80,000 illnesses every year in the U.S., and 1 in 5 people will die from an infection of this bacteria. The CDC reminds people with recent surgical wounds, open wounds, recent tattoos, or other cuts and scrapes to avoid salt or brackish water that may contain the bacteria, as those people are particularly susceptible to infection by the necrotizing bacteria. Experts further note that people with liver disease, diabetes, or other immunocompromising issues are at a higher risk of death with this bacterium.

East coast states New York, Connecticut, and North Carolina have reported severe and fatal infections in their waters. Gulf states, such as Louisiana, Alabama, and Texas, have also had instances of infections and deaths.

Vibriosis is a nationally notifiable disease, meaning all cases must be reported for tracking and treatment. Once an outbreak is known, signage should be posted along the coastline, and education should be extended to the community. According to the CDC, this naturally occurring bacteria can infect anyone, but those susceptible should take extra precautions.

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