Five deaths from ‘flesh-eating’ bacteria have been reported by Florida officials in Tampa Bay since January

Flesh-eating bacteria found on in Tampa Bay (Not pictured); No Swimming Advisory Sign On Beach – Courtesy: Shutterstock – Image by Jean Faucett

According to Florida officials, five people have been proven deceased in the Tampa Bay area as a result of a flesh-eating bacteria that is known to lurk near beaches.

The vibrio vulnificus bacterium needs salt to survive, hence Florida Health claims that its natural home is the warm, brackish ocean.

In warmer months, bacteria tend to proliferate more swiftly. 

Despite the rarity of infections, health experts advise against swimming if you have any open wounds, cuts, or scratches. 

This year, there have been five reported cases of fatal bacterial infections, with two deaths occurring in Hillsborough County and one each in Pasco, Polk, and Sarasota.

Since January, there have been 26 cases of vibrio vulnificus infections in Florida, according to officials.

There were a total of 74 cases and 17 fatalities in 2022.

That year’s figures were unusually high because Hurricane Ian released sewage into the ocean, which raised the level of bacteria.

The necrotizing fasciitis, a serious infection in which the tissue surrounding an open wound dies, is caused by some Vibrio vulnificus infections, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). More than one kind of bacteria can cause necrotizing fasciitis.

Direct contact with the mixture of fresh and seawater can expose those who have open wounds, scrapes, or scratches to the bacteria. 

Skin infections brought on by Vibrio vulnificus can result in ulceration and skin breakdown.

Vibrio vulnificus infections can affect anyone, but those with compromised immune systems may experience more severe symptoms. 

The bacterium can enter the bloodstream and result in a severe sickness that is potentially fatal and has symptoms including fever, chills, low blood pressure, and blistering skin sores. 

It has the potential to result in serious sickness or death; according to the CDC, one in five victims pass away within a day or two of becoming ill occasionally.

People who consume raw or undercooked oysters and shellfish run the risk of contracting the illness Vibrio vulnificus. 

Although HIV cannot be passed from one person to another, anyone having symptoms should visit a doctor very away.

After the bacterium claimed the life of one New York resident and two residents of Connecticut over the summer, the New York State Health Department last week released guidelines for citizens to recognize vibrio vulnificus infections.

According to the state Department of Public Health, three people have been identified as having contracted the Vibrio vulnificus bacteria. 

The governor of New York, Kathy Hochul, declared the flesh-eating bacteria “extraordinarily dangerous” and advised her residents to take preventative measures.

“While rare, the vibrio bacterium has unfortunately made it to this region and can be extraordinarily dangerous,” Hochul said in a press release. “As we investigate further, it is critical that all New Yorkers stay vigilant and take responsible precautions to keep themselves and their loved ones safe, including protecting open wounds from seawater and for those with compromised immune systems, avoiding raw or undercooked shellfish which may carry the bacteria.”

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