US authorities warn of cases of “flesh-eating” bacteria Vibrio vulnificus

Miami, 4 Sept (EFE).- US health officials have warned of the deadly Vibrio vulnificus, known as the “flesh-eating bacteria,” in waters along the country’s east coast and the Gulf of Mexico.

According to the Florida Department of Health, at least five people died in 2023 cases linked to the bacteria.

The country’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) alerted health facilities this weekend that the bacteria, which thrives in warm summer waters (May to October) and low-salinity marine environments such as estuaries, has spread across the US.

The federal agency warned that about 80,000 people a year are sickened by this bacteria, most often by eating raw or undercooked contaminated shellfish.

According to the CDC, there are about 80,000 illnesses linked to Vibrio bacteria in the U.S. each year, with 150 to 200 related to Vibrio vulnificus.

Not all Vibrio species are considered “flesh-eating,” and about a dozen species make people sick. People who develop an infection often have gastrointestinal symptoms, fever, and chills.

Infections caused by Vibrio vulnificus are rare and more serious than most. In severe cases, patients can develop necrotizing fasciitis and even sepsis.

About one in five people who contract the infection die, sometimes within a day or two of becoming ill.

Vibrio vulnificus is a bacterium found in warm, brackish seawater that can enter the bloodstream through open wounds such as fresh cuts and scrapes or recent piercings and tattoos.

It can only be treated with antibiotics.

The infection mainly affects the elderly or those with underlying health conditions such as liver disease, cancer, diabetes, HIV, or other diseases that suppress the immune system.

Doctors advise people to avoid eating raw shellfish, especially oysters, and not to bathe in the sea or brackish water with recent wounds or cuts on the skin to prevent any possibility of infection. EFE


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