What Is Vibrio Vulnificus And Must It Warrant Your Panic?

Vibrio vulnificusa flesh-eating bacteria has recently been linked to the death of about three residents of Connecticut and New York – all of which are regions in the USA. The bacteria grows well in areas that are warm, and contain brackish water.

Two people out of the three – who were all older than 60, were reported to have had open cuts and have swam in Long Island Sound. The third person was also reported to have eaten raw oysters from an out-of-state shop.

What Is Vibrio vulnificus?

The bacteria Vibrio vulnificus  causes a serious type of skin disease called Necrotizing Fasciitis and the bloodstream infection; sepsis.

The bacteria can enter the body in two ways, according to experts. The first possible way, results from your exposure to brackish, warm water that is contaminated with the bacterium, through a cut, or a puncture wound or a scrape you have sustained on your skin.

The other possible way could be by means of a diseased liver or a suppressed immune system allowing infection in people who have eaten contaminated raw oyster. Here, the bacteria bacteria gets to the stomach through the bloodstream and then causes sepsis.

Why must you panic about the infection?

Although vibrio infections are rare, they can quickly escalate into deadly diseases. Vibrio vulnificus infections for example, can make people seriously ill and may lead to intensive care or limb amputation.

In some cases, the infected persons can die within a day or two of after contracting the infection.

Who Is at Risk for Vibrio vulnificus Infection?

The following people are mostly predisposed to getting an Vibro Vulnificus infection .

  • Those having an unhealthy immune system are likely to get Vibrio vulnificus infections when they’re exposed to the bacteria.
  • People who have sustained various cuts or puncture wounds or scrapes are also likely to contract Vibrio vulnificus infection when they swim in waters affected by the bacteria.
  • Males who are over the ages of 40 are typically at a higher risk of getting infected by Vibrio vulnificus.
  • Individuals with chronic liver damages.
  • People with other types of liver diseases and diabetes.
  • Those living with HIV and thalassemia, an inherited blood disorder.
  • People who have had recent stomach surgery, or take medicine to decrease stomach acid.

Symptoms of Vibrio vulnificus

People infected with the bacteria often develop sudden symptoms. The symptoms may arise from an acute reaction to eating raw shellfish and this normally takes only a few hours for it to spread from your gut to your blood and other organs.

Symptoms include

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Watery diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Redness or rash
  • Fluid-filled blisters on your skin that are normally large, discolored, or painful.

Where Is Vibrio vulnificus Found?

The bacterium is not a natural resident of full strength seawater but is rather found in coastal estuary waters that contain brackish water.

Experts also claim that the bacterium causes an infection when the water it lives in is warm — about 68 to 70 degrees F.

Treatment of Vibrio vulnificus

Vibrio vulnificus infections can be treated with antibiotics. These antibiotics may even cure the disease if it’s spotted early.

To ward off the disease or prevent contracting the infection, the Food and Drug Administration of the USA suggests the following,

  • Avoid eating raw oysters and raw or undercooked shellfish.
  • Avoid swimming or playing in brackish coastal seawater if you have a wound or break in your skin, or had a recent piercing, tattoo, or surgery.

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