After Hurricane Ian, Florida officials reported a record number of infections by the ‘flesh-eating’ bacteria

Florida health officials in Lee County raised concerns about Vibrio virus infections in response to Hurricane Ian. Data shows that there have been a record number of confirmed cases.

The health department urges people to be aware of Vibrio Vulnificus, which is a bacterium that lives in brackish, warm seawater.

Warmer months are more conducive to bacteria growth, and the risk of sewage contamination from Hurricane Ian could increase.

According to the department, there are currently 65 cases and 11 deaths due to this rare bacterium. An asterisk indicates that there has been an “abnormal rise” as a result of Hurricane Ian.

Vibrio vulnificius belongs to a group of vibrios known as “halophilic” because they need salt.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that some Vibrio Vulnificus infections can lead to necrotizing fasciitis. This is a serious infection where the flesh around an open cut dies. Multiple bacteria can cause necrotizing fasciitis.

Direct contact with seawater and freshwater can expose people with open wounds, cuts, or scrapes to the bacteria.

Vibrio Vulgaris can infect the skin and cause skin ulcers.

Vibrio vulnificus can happen to anyone. However, people with weak immune systems are more likely to get the infection.

The bacterium may enter the bloodstream and cause severe, life-threatening symptoms such as fever, skin blistering, low blood pressure, and chills.

It can cause serious illness or death. The CDC estimates that one-fifth of people will die within a few days.

Vibrio can also cause illness in those who consume raw oysters or shellfish.

Although it is not transmissible from one person to another, people with symptoms should see a doctor immediately.

Avoid flood water, standing water, and brackish water for anyone with cuts, wounds, or scrapes.

After coming in contact with such water, raw or undercooked seafood, or its juices, all cuts and wounds should be cleaned thoroughly with soap and water.

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