Photo Credit: BBC News, Washington
Hurricane Ian has not only caused immense structural damage and flooding but has also brought a flesh-eating bacteria that has surged a high number of cases in Lee County, FL.
Many of these infections are found in that county, but specifically more cases have appeared in Fort Myers and Sanibel Island after Ian’s landfall being a category 4 on September 28. The Florida Health Department reported 65 cases of Vibrio vulnificus bacterium and 11 deaths in the state as of 2022.
Unfortunately, health officials could not deliver the precise number of cases before and after Ian struck.
Instead, officials pushed forward an informative news release about the after effects of Hurricane Ian. Specifically targeting the flooded water as a potentially deadly bacteria. For more information on warning people about open wounds and cuts to avoid skin contact with the floodwaters, there is a fact sheet.
Vibrio vulnificus' natural habitat resides in warm salt water and is prevalent when it comes to flooding. This bacteria can infect humans in two ways: consumption of undercooked shellfish and skin contact with wounds or cuts. This bacteria is known as “flesh-eating” because it can form necrotising fasciitis, which is a condition that causes tissue to deteriorate.
Photo Credit: NHS
Treatment for this illness is not always necessary due to it being rare! If symptoms begin to worsen then doctors will prescribe antibiotics, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Following more persistent cases can lead to blood infections, blistering skin lesions, amputation, or death.
Those who may be more susceptible and are at risk of Vibrio vulnificus are people with a weakened immune system or those with liver disease, states the CDC.
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