Flesh-Eating Bacteria in Long Island Sound

This summer an extraordinarily high number of flesh-eating bacteria cases occurred in Connecticut. Let me put it into perspective for you.  In the past decade only seven cases have been diagnosed in the state.  This summer five cases were reported in a two month span. That’s crazy bad. As if we didn’t have enough to worry about already.

All of these five cases likely occurred from contact with the water in Long Island Sound. Now before you freak out, flesh-eating bacteria cases are still exceedingly rare. Your chances of contracting this evilness are very, very low. But folks with compromised immune systems or advanced age must take care. People who have liver disease or take medicine that lowers the body’s ability to fight germs are also at risk.  And everyone with an open cut on their body should take care as well. Here are a few valuable tips.

  • If you have a wound (including from a recent surgery, piercing, or tattoo), stay out of saltwater or brackish water, if possible. This includes wading at the beach.
  • Cover your wound with a waterproof bandage if it could come into contact with saltwater, brackish water, or raw or undercooked seafood and its juices. This contact can happen during everyday activities, such as swimming, fishing, or walking on the beach. 
  • Wash wounds and cuts thoroughly with soap and water after they have contact with saltwater, brackish water, raw seafood, or its juices.

Symptoms of flesh-eating bacteria (Vibrio Vulnificus) requires immediate attention. Time is of the essences. My friend this business can kill you. Signs and symptoms of Vibrio vulnificus infection can include:

  • Watery diarrhea, often accompanied by stomach cramping, nausea, vomiting, and fever
  • For bloodstream infection: fever, chills, dangerously low blood pressure, and blistering skin lesions
  • For wound infection, which may spread to the rest of the body: fever, redness, pain, swelling, warmth, discoloration, and discharge (leaking fluids).

Vibrio tends to live in warm salt or brackish waters. Its presence in Florida is one of the reasons I moved back north last year. Declining water quality was on the rise including red tide, blue-green algae and flesh-eating bacteria. And near where I lived in Florida two cases of Vibrio were reported in one summer, both resulting in leg amputations. And get this: a man to the north of me died from eating raw oysters!  Yes you can get Vibrio from raw seafood.  Prior to these events I waded wet when fishing. After these events I worn waders much of time and always if I had a scratch or cut on my leg. Stay safe.

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