Saltwater eating flesh bacteria - KLFY News 10

Saltwater eating flesh bacteria

In the summer, the sun heats up Louisiana waters unfortunately making it the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. During this time of the year Vibrio Vulnificus, a flesh eating bacteria, is commonly found in saltwater. 


Doctor Tina Stefanski with the Office of Public Health says, there are a higher number of cases during the summer months. 


“Typically in Louisiana we have ten to 15 cases of Vibrio Vulnificus infections reported every year,” said Stefanski. 


According to Stefanski, there are two ways humans can be exposed to the bacteria. “We as humans are exposed to this bacteria and can develop disease either through eating raw or undercooked shellfish like oysters or exposure of an open wound to seawater,” said Stefanski. 


Stefanski said people with high risk conditions need to be particularly concerned and aware of Vibrio. 


“People who are most at risk for severe infections are people with chronic liver disease so people with cirrhosis, alcoholism, cancer and diabetes. People who are immunocompromised,” said Stefanski. 


According to Dr. Stefanski, if you’re injured while fishing or swimming in saltwater you should use a bottle of water or any form of clean water immediately in order to prevent infection. Captain Robert Buatt with the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries adds those working or fishing in or around saltwater areas should make sure to wear the appropriate clothing. 


“Wear some protective gear when handling seafood out on the water such as gloves and clothing that would prohibit any of the water from getting into any open sores,” said Buatt. 


Stefanski said if you cut yourself while fishing and, a few days later, there’s pain, puffiness or redness around the cut you should seek medical attention immediately. The infection spreads rapidly and could be fatal if it reaches the bloodstream. 


For more information refer towww.dhh.louisiana.gov

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