Dangerous flesh-eating bacteria infections on the rise after Hurricane Ian

Flesh-eating bacteria cases are rising in Florida after Hurricane Ian – The Washington Post

There has been an increase in infections caused by a rare flesh-eating bacteria in Florida in the wake of Hurricane Ian, in part due to catastrophic flooding caused by the storm.

The Florida Department of Health reports 65 cases and 11 deaths caused by Vibrio vulnificus infection in the state as of Friday, up from 34 cases and 10 deaths reported in 2021.

The majority of infections are located in Lee County. As a Category 4 storm, Ian made landfall in Lee County in Southwest Florida on September 28.

Lee County residents were warned about the risks of Vibrio vulnificus on October 3 by the Florida Department of Health.

According to an email from DOH-Lee spokesperson Tammy Soliz, “as the post-storm situation evolves, the public is encouraged to take precautions against infection and illness caused by Vibrio vulnificus.”

As a result of exposure to flood waters and standing water following Hurricane Ian, DOH-Lee is observing an abnormal increase in cases of Vibrio vulnificus infections. There have been 26 cases of Vibrio vulnificus reported to DOH-Lee since September 29, 2022. It is noteworthy that all 26 of the cases had wounds that were infected due to exposure to flood waters that occurred from the storm surge entering their homes or during the cleanup following the storm. The number of deaths among residents of Lee County has reached six.”

Data from the Florida Department of Health indicates that there were two Vibrio vulnificus cases in Lee County before the storm and 37 cases in the state as a whole.

“Based on our trends, we are seeing a decline in cases ever since the storm,” Florida Department of Health spokesperson Jae Williams said Tuesday.

Vibrio vulnificus is a naturally occurring bacterium that lives in warm salt water and can infect humans through undercooked shellfish or skin wounds.

Williams stated that the infections are “very prevalent during floods.”. The floods caused by Ian have reached an astronomical level. This type of flooding is not common during hurricanes.”

Williams explained that the Florida Department of Health disseminated floodwater safety information through social media messages and radio advertisements before, during, and after the storm. In the fact sheet, it is recommended that people with open wounds and cuts avoid coming in contact with floodwaters.

Symptoms of Vibrio infection, or vibriosis, include watery diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, fever, and chills. It is not always necessary to seek medical treatment, and severe illness is rare, but doctors may prescribe antibiotics in persistent cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Occasionally, the bacteria can cause blood infections, blistering skin lesions, amputations, or even death.

“Vibriosis is estimated to cause 80,000 illnesses and 100 deaths per year in the United States,” according to the CDC.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with weakened immune systems and liver disease are most likely to contract Vibrio vulnificus and die.

For more coverage on this story, check the following additional news sources:

  1. Flesh-eating bacteria cases are rising in Florida after Hurricane Ian  The Washington Post
  2. Florida is seeing a spike in infections caused by ‘flesh-eating’ bacteria after Hurricane Ian. Here’s what to know.  Yahoo News
  3. Florida Facing A Record Number Of Flesh-Eating Bacteria Cases After Hurricane Ian  CBS Miami
  4. Dangerous flesh-eating bacterial infections increased in Florida after Hurricane Ian  CNN
  5. Spike in vibrio cases after Hurricane Ian  Wink News