Enjoy the Water, but be Smart and Avoid the Vibrios
Small wounds can happen easily when you are out fishing or enjoying some time on the beaches, for example, getting hooked on your own fishing tackle or stepping on an oyster shell. At the time, it may seem an insignificant injury. But, the Vibrio vulnificus bacterium can enter through a new wound or through an existing wound, like a tiny cut, scratch or even a mosquito bite. For most healthy individuals, any infection or irritation is minor and hardly noticed. The case is different for people who have weakened immune systems. The bacterium invades the bloodstream, potentially causing a severe and life-threatening illness. Vibrio wound infections happen fast; symptoms may become evident in only four hours.
Dr. Evan Malone explains that Vibrio has always been in Gulf Waters. Here are some facts and tips about the bacteria:
- Vibrio has always been in the Gulf waters
- Vibrio thrives in warmer water months
- Healthy, immunocompetent individuals are at low risk for becoming infected
- Immunocompromised individuals are at increased risk of infection
- Those with open wounds, independent of underlying health history, are at increased risk of infection
Swim. Enjoy the Gulf.
Avoid the Gulf with open wounds or underlying systemic illness (uncontrolled diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease, cancer, immunosuppressant therapy).
If you are injured in or around Gulf waters seek medical attention, even if you “think it doesn’t need stitches” — these wounds need to be evaluated by a medical professional to determine the best treatment.
Most people are unaware of a dangerous flesh eating bacterium, Vibrio vulnificus, which thrives in our coastal salt water. Scientists have identified more than 100 distinct species of Vibrio bacteria.
But only a few are pathogenic and harmful to humans. Among those are Vibrio cholerae, the bacterium that causes cholera which still kills over 500,000 people annually. CDC states that Vibrio parahaemolyticus causes on average about 45,000 cases of disease in the U.S. each year, 86% of which are food-borne gastorenteritis. By comparison, CDC estimates that Salmonella causes 1 million cases of gastroenteritis annually, Shigella 500,000 and Listeria 1,600. The V. parahaemolyticus death rate is low, about 2% for gastroenteritis and 20-30% for wound-related cases.
The CDC states that Vibrio infections may be under-reported. Since 1988, the CDC has maintained a voluntary surveillance system for culture-confirmed Vibrio infections in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. Between 1988 and 2006, CDC received reports of more than 900 infections from the Gulf Coast states. In 2007, surveillance was expanded to national notification of infections caused by any Vibrio species. Wounds account for approximately 60% of all U.S. Vibrio vulnificus cases.
Pensacola Personal Injury Lawyer, Joe Zarzaur, founder of Zarzaur Law has created this blog in an effort to educate the many citizens and visitors of Pensacola, Florida about their legal rights. Joe Zarzaur knows the ins and outs of Florida law, and offers friendly-quality legal help whether you have experienced an auto accident/car wreck, have been a victim of medical malpractice or are in need of a personal injury lawyer.
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