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Home / Health / More cases of carnivorous bacteria in the Gulf of Mexico and elsewhere are likely due to climate change

More cases of carnivorous bacteria in the Gulf of Mexico and elsewhere are likely due to climate change



At least one health expert says the Gulf of Mexico sees more cases of carnivorous bacteria this year.

(Tim Boyles / Getty Images)

  • More than half a dozen cases of carnivorous bacteria have been linked to the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Three of the cases were deadly.
  • The bacteria that cause these bacteria thrives in warm brackish water.
  • Warmer water due to climate change probably means there will be more cases.

More than half a dozen cases of carnivorous bacteria, including three that were fatal, have been linked to the Gulf of Mexico in recent months.

The Gulf waters and surrounding bays, warm and nutritious, are a perfect home for bacteria that can cause necrotizing fasciitis, the official name for carnivorous bacteria.

With climate change warming the oceans, these infections will become more common and be found in a wider range of places, the authors said in a report in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

The perpetrator of many cases is Vibrio vulnificus, a naturally occurring bacterium in warm, brackish seawater. It can get into the skin of a person through a cut or a scratch. In healthy people, it usually causes a mild illness, according to the Florida Department of Health. However, Vibrio can cause necrotizing fasciitis in people with weakened immune systems.

(MORE: Carnivorous bacteria may spread as the oceans heat up, researchers say )

Shaving, and when the bacteria is there, it can exploit the opening , Mosquito bites. Tiny grazes can be an entry point "Dr. Gordon Dickinson, a staff surgeon at the Miami VA Healthcare System and a professor of medicine at the University of Miami, opposite the Miami Herald.

The skin, Vibrio vulnificus, can infect humans when they eat contaminated raw shellfish, especially oysters. The Florida Health Department reports that there were 92 cases of Vibrio vulnificus in the state in 201

7 and 2018. There were 20 deaths during this time. From 2008 to 2018, there were 108 deaths. The CDC estimates that Vibrio vulnificus causes about 205 infections annually in the US . According to CDC, about 1 in 7 people die from Vibrio vulnificus wound infection. (Group A streptococci, the bacteria causing throat infections, are the most common cause for necrotizing fasciitis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but do not live in water.)

Occurred in some cases Vibrio infection is likely due to a fishhook, toe stump, a cut on one leg, or some other skin crack. Two of the victims allegedly did not go into the water.

Debra Mattix said her husband, Gary Evans, 56, has no obvious wounds and, according to KHOU, never got into the water during a camping trip to Magnolia Beach in Texas on July 4 .

"His hat fell into the water a couple of times, and he picked it up, and you only laughed at it, and he put it back on its head, right?" Asked Debra Mattix. Could it be when he pulled the crab traps out of the water and the breeze, part of the water splashed on him then But to say we swam in the water, no, we are never got into the water. "

The Vibrio bacterium entered Evan's bloodstream and his organs failed, but within four days he was dead.

(MORE: 5 New Coral Discovered in the Gulf of Mexico Reefs )

Dave Bennett of Memphis, Tennessee, died within 48 hours of visiting Destin Beach in Florida on July 5 and 6 for an infection because of being treated for cancer

"I do not want to keep people away from the beach. I love the beach, my father loved the beach. That was his favorite place, but it's not worth your while. "Life for life," said Cheryl Wiygul, Bennett's daughter beach.

The family of Lynn Fleming, who died on Florida's Anna Maria Island in June of a necrotizing fasciitis , also does not want people to be scared to go to the beach, because their son said he wants people to become more aware of the possibility of infection.

"We do not keep people from spending time "said Wade Fleming to CNN," We met a lot of people from Florida who said they have never heard of necrotizing fasciitis. "

" Maybe they should think about signs that Warn people on the beach, "Fleming said.

In addition to Evans, Bennett, and Fleming, here are four other cases of carnivorous bacteria that have occurred in or near the Gulf of Mexico:

April 20 – A man fishing off the coast of Palm Harbor, Florida, is contracted the bacteria when a fishhook puts his hand. Mike Walton, 51, from Ozona, Florida, had to undergo surgery to rescue his arm reported Bay News 9

May – Amy Barnes, 45, of Arcadia, Florida, reported the Herald-Tribune that she had developed a necrotizing fasciitis after visiting Siesta Key at Sarasota. She said she had a scratch on her leg. Doctors at Sarasota Memorial Hospital diagnosed her with necrotizing fasciitis, she said.

June 9 – Kylei Brown, a 12-year-old girl from Indiana, was infected while vacationing in Destin, Florida, while wading on Pompano Beach. Her mother said in a Facebook post, she thinks the girl had stung her toe and the bacteria had attacked her right leg.

June 28 – Tyler King of Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, fell ill with a bacterial infection in his arm after paddling over a brackish basin. He was treated with several antibiotics and discharged from the hospital.

In early July, the Florida Health Department issued a statement stating, "Necrotizing fasciitis and severe Vibrio vulnificus infections are rare. These infections can be treated with antibiotics and sometimes require surgery to repair damaged tissue Diagnosis is quickly the key to effective treatment and recovery. "

(MORE: Here the Atlantic hurricane season typically rises )

The statement added that Healthy people with a strong immune system that has no fresh cuts, scratches or breaks in the skin should be able to enjoy the water. "

Dr Sally Alrabaa, an infectious disease specialist at USF Health and the Tampa General Hospital, told the Tampa Bay Times that despite recent reports, cases of necrotizing fasciitis have only slightly increased this year, but we see more cases this year, "said Alrabaa. "As the water gets warmer by a few degrees, the bacteria will bloom for a long time."

Vibrio vulnificus is a naturally occurring bacterium in warm, brackish seawater. It can get into the skin of a person through a cut or a scratch.

(Joe Raedle / Getty Images)

Clifford Renk, Life Sciences Chair of Florida Gulf Coast University, told the WBBH that the Gulf was the perfect breeding ground [for Vibrio] in the summer months.

"As the Gulf of Mexico rises above 85 degrees, the number of bacteria in the Gulf increases," said Renk.

Larry McKinney of the Hard Research Institute for the Gulf of Mexico Studies have told Forbes that Gulf Coast waters have reached 85 degrees two months earlier than expected this year .

Vibrio vulnificus also appears in places that did not exist before. The bacterium was rare in Delaware Bay between New Jersey and Delaware, until five people fell ill by 2017 and 2018.

Madeleine King, assistant professor at the University of New Jersey Science and a co-author of the study estimate that bacteria will migrate further north as sea temperatures get warmer due to climate change Philly Mag. [19659008] The Florida Health Department of Health and the CDC say that symptoms of Vibrio vulnificus infection may include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain or fever. When a necrotizing fasciitis develops, the symptoms are a red or swollen area of ​​the skin that spreads rapidly. severe pain, including pain beyond the skin area that is red or swollen, and fever. Later symptoms that can occur are ulcers, blisters or black spots on the skin. Changes in skin color; Pus or wetness in the infected area, dizziness, tiredness and diarrhea or nausea.

Health officials say the best way to prevent infection is to treat all wounds before you go into the water, and to quickly provide first aid on all wounds. Blisters, scratches or cracks on the beach.

Other tips:

  • Avoid walking, sitting or swimming with open wounds in Gulf or Bay waters.
  • Properly cleanse and treat wounds If you accidentally expose a wound to Gulf or Laurel water, injure yourself in water, or injure yourself while cleaning or handling seafood.
  • If you flush with fresh water after swimming, the risk of exposure may be further reduced.
  • Immediate medical treatment if you develop signs or symptoms of infection (redness, swelling, fever, severe pain in the area of ​​the red or swollen skin) near or near a wound.


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