This week’s message is about a silent killer lurking in the warm waters of the bays and estuaries of not only our state of Florida but in many and most of the saltwater locations in these United States of America. This is not a new thing that has come upon us. Vibrio vulnificus is known by its common name, flesh-eating (deadly) bacteria! The effects on our bodies would be called “Vibriosis.” This bacteria has been found to come from a good many water-borne incidents, with the consumption of raw and uncooked seafood (clams, oysters, scallops, and many mussels) by people with varying immunodeficient and related underlying problems. Also, holding a close second place in what brings this on is going into the warm body of salt water with an open sore, wound, or similar unprotected skin opening.
I had heard of this about two years ago, but at the time of this writing, I have found stories on YouTube dating back many years. The TV company WTVT, FOX Tampa Bay, did a story about nine years ago where Mr. Russel Rhodes was interviewing Dr. Joette Giovinco. “Dr. Jo” said that this bacteria is nothing new and has been around for quite some time and that millions of people are exposed to it every year. It is those people (previously mentioned) that allow the “bug” to get into their systems.
When I “Googled” the term, it gives a semi-scientific explanation (which is as follows). Vibrio is a genus of Gram-negative bacteria possessing a curved-rod shape, several species of which can cause foodborne infection, usually associated with eating undercooked seafood. Being highly salt tolerant and unable to survive in freshwater. Vibrio spp. are commonly found in various saltwater environments (from Wikipedia).
(Now that all of that is out of the way)! “ Dr.Jo” also says that the old myth of getting into salt water if you have a cut or sore is one of the worst things a person can do (as the bacteria is a rapidly spreading thing). The organism could be ingested through water or enter through the nasal openings. If it is able to get into the intestines, it will proliferate and, in a lot of cases, cause death.
Also, many people who have been infected end up facing major amputations. If it gets into the bloodstream, it can bring on sepsis. Dr. Jo stated that Vibriosis is treatable, but unless the doctor knows what they are facing, they may prescribe an antibiotic that is not strong enough to stop the spread.
I came across a recent video by Eyewitness News ABC7NY on the subject. They were talking about three similar incidents stemming from exposure to saltwater and undercooked seafood products. This TV market was concerning the New York and Connecticut area! That reporter also mentioned recent similar cases coming out of the shoreline area of North Carolina. In this video, they described more internal symptoms, including (but not ending at) stomach cramps, vomiting, and fever and chills. People with cancer, diabetes, and some with HIV related illnesses, taking immunosuppressants are at a high risk as well. They may be advised to steer clear of seafood like mussels, raw oysters, and scallops.
Dr. Bernard Camins with Mt. Sinai Health Systems said that external infections would display signs of blistering rash, redness, pain, swelling, and warm discharge around the wounds. (By the way, this is the same information you can find via the CDC website.)
This information that I bring to you here is something that not only most Floridians should be aware of but also anyone who lives near or works around seawater or even has an affinity for many of the named seafood products. Saying that this does not pertain to you is similar to saying that you will never get into a vehicular accident while making daily commutes to downtown Tampa, Florida! Believe me when I say that there are similarities (and yes, I have been involved in a few traffic problems in my 40-plus years on the interstates)! Just as I am careful and cautious driving into the metro areas, I will not take any chances with open cuts and swimming in the warm Gulf of Mexico waters. I hope that this story is of some help to you readers out there! Have a good (and blessed) week!