After Hurricane Ian, US’ Florida Sees Rise In Infections Caused By ‘Flesh-Eating’ Bacteria: Report

New Delhi: Florida, that was devastated by Hurricane Ian last month, killing over 100 people, has seen a surge in illness caused by flesh-eating bacteria.

According to a report by BBC, Lee County, where the hurricane made the landfall, has reported 29 illnesses and four deaths due to the bacteria so far, and out of the 29 cases, 26 of them occurred since the hurricane started on 29 September.

Vibrio vulnificus (V.vulnificus) infections, is also known as flesh-eating bacteria as it can lead to necrotizing fasciitis when the flesh surrounding a wound starts to rot and die.

“The Florida Department of Health in Lee County is observing an abnormal increase in cases of Vibrio vulnificus infections as a result of exposure to the flood-waters and standing waters following Hurricane Ian,” BBC quoted a spokesperson at the county health department as saying.

The statement also cautioned the people to remain alert of “potential risks associated when exposing open wounds, cuts, or scratches on the skin to warm, brackish, or salt water.”

“Sewage spills, like those caused from Hurricane Ian, may increase bacteria levels. As the post-storm situation evolves, individuals should take precautions against infection and illness caused by Vibrio vulnificus,” the statement said.

It is to be noted that V. vulnificus is a highly deadly bacterial infection, that kills one in five people that it infects. It usually enters the body through the bloodstream and causes sepsis.

Other symptoms of the infection include a fatal drop in blood pressure, fever, skin lesions among others.

As per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the disease does not spread from an infected person to another. However, a person can contract the infection if they come into contact with raw or undercooked seafood, saltwater, or brackish water.

Notably, this year, 65 cases and 11 deaths have been recorded in Florida, which is more than any other year since the data collection started in 2008.

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