September 30, 2013
Flesh-Eating Beach Bacteria Kills 9 In Florida
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Deadly flesh-eating bacteria are emerging on the beaches of Florida and health officials are warning people at the coastlines to be aware. The Vibrio vulnificus bacterium has killed nine people in Florida so far this year, according to a report from a local ABC affiliate in Florida. This bacteria occur naturally in seawater, but they can get into a person's bloodstream through an open wound or from consuming raw shellfish.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says Vibrio vulnificus can cause vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. It can also cause a severe and life-threatening illness characterized by fever and chills, decreased blood pressure and blistering skin lesions. The CDC said that 50 percent of Vibrio vulnificus bloodstream infections are fatal.
"V. vulnificus can cause an infection of the skin when open wounds are exposed to warm seawater; these infections may lead to skin breakdown and ulceration. Persons who are immunocompromised are at higher risk for invasion of the organism into the bloodstream and potentially fatal complications," reads the CDC's website.
WESH news station of Orlando is reporting that 26 people have been infected with the deadly flesh-eating bacteria across the state. Health officials from the AAFP say that to reduce the likelihood of infection, people should avoid contact with raw seafood juices and use separate cutting boards and knives for seafood and non-seafood. They also say to avoid eating raw oysters or seafood, especially if an immuno-compromising condition exists or when chronic liver disease is present.
Henry Konietzky was one of the people who died from an infection due to the bacteria. The 59-year-old was a married father who accidentally stepped onto some ants before getting into the water. The ant bites may have created an open wound for the bacteria to enter. After being bitten, Konietzky waded into the water knee-deep to set up crab traps. He died just 28 hours after he contracted the bacterial infection.
"We are still in shock. What's really devastating is that he fished his whole life. For something like this to take him away from us so quickly, without warning, is really scary," Konietzky's daughter told the Daily Mail.
Flagler Health Department Administrator Patrick Johnson told The Daytona Beach News-Journal that the two most recent cases are linked to open-wound exposure to the bacteria in the Halifax River near High Bridge Road in Ormond Beach.
“This is an illness that generally happens when someone eats raw oysters but that's not the case here,” Johnson told the Daytona journal. “Because the two most recent cases are linked to the same area, we wanted to make the public aware.”