Officials Trying To Subside Panic Amongst Floridians Over Flesh Eating Bacteria

The flesh eating bacteria called Vibrio strikes fear in the public. Health officials in Florida are taking measures to ensure that people know that it is not as exaggeratingly life threatening as it seems.

From late May when news about cases of Vibrio vulnificus bacterium starting spreading the whole state was clouded with fear. The Florida Health Department feels that the wide media coverage published inaccuracies which have caused a great deal of concern among Floridians.

People are quite concerned about the safety of the beaches involving previous cases.

“Our goal is to ensure the public has accurate information regarding any potential health risk, which is why we issued a press release,” says Mara Burger, spokeswoman of the state health department.

Burger feels that unnecessary fear has been caused by inaccurate information which has been sensationalized.
She clarifies that Vibrio vulnificus is not flesh-eating. While it is true that when Vibrio is left untreated it could greatly affect the body’s soft tissues, this complication – called necrotizing fasciitis – is something caused by more than just Vibrio.

Vibrio is usually contracted by eating raw or undercooked oysters and other types of shellfish or the exposure of open wounds, cuts and scratches, to salt water.

It is important to seek medical attention when an open wound gets infected and also to cover open wounds with dry bandages till they have healed.

Department of Health assures people that a normal healthy person without any open cuts or wounds is perfectly safe and not at risk.

With proper precautions taken in preventing infection, visitors should be free to explore the state’s beaches.
For those with weaker immune systems, and especially for chronic liver disease patients, risk is higher. The rare infection, according to Burger, can lead to gastroenteritis, sepsis and, if untreated, amputation.

Eight cases of Vibrio vulnificus infections were reported in 2015. This includes two deaths. In the past 12 months, the health department reported 32 cases. From data gathered from 2008 to 2013, the highest number of cases was recorded in 2013 as 41, while the highest number of reported deaths was in 2011 as 13. Most of the cases and deaths were reported to have occurred between May to October, when the waters in the state are warmest.

The Department of Health releases information each year to remind Floridians of ways to prevent getting infected by the Vibrio vulnificus bacterium normally found in warm brackish water.


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