How can things get so out of hand, from blistering bacteria to flesh-eating horror, on Floridas beaches? Well if you take the time to ask the Florida Department of Health Officials, you might not have a need to freak out at all.
In the past week beachgoers throughout Floridas famous beaches have been put on alert by several news outlets, including VOXXIs Saludify channel about a flesh-eating bacteria that thrives in salty warm waterthe typical conditions found in Floridas beaches. The problems with what many outlets are reporting is that the bacteria Vibrio vulnificus doesnt eat your flesh at all, but it will get your skin full of blisters if left untreated.
The important thing to note is that this is not a flesh eating bacteria, said Sheri Hutchinson, press secretary for the Florida Department of Health.
Thats right, the alert for the bacteria is nothing new; Vibrio vulnificus thrives all the time bodies of warm salt water, and the only reason the health department puts the word out there is as a precaution because summer is herenot because of a particular outbreak.
Indeed, if you read the official reports, there have been ten deaths and dozens hospitalized because of the Vibrio vulnificus bacteria, but this has been over a period of several years. In 2014, to date, only 2 deaths have been reported: one in Lee County and one in Dixie County. Eight other cases have been reported in 2014, to date, where the victims haven’t died. However, cases are reported where the victims lived, not where they contracted the bacteria. This means its difficult to pinpoint what beaches they got it at.
Avoiding the bacteria while still enjoying the beach in Florida is totally doable–from Miami Beach to Pensacola in the panhandle– as long as you take some simple but important precautions.
Do you have an open wound or cut? STAY OUT of the water. The bacteria can only be caught if it enters your blood stream through a wound or cut that isnt healing. It can also be caught by eating raw shellfish from waters where the bacteria resides. So stay away from raw seafood such as oysters coming from these waters, unless they’re properly cooked. Cooking kills the bacteria, so eat wisely and cooked!
There are people that we suggest they dont go into the water: those who are immunocompromised who have an open wound, Hutchinson told VOXXI.
Those who are susceptible to serious infections, such as those with chronic liver disease, including the elderly, should consult their doctor before going in the water or consuming raw shellfish from Florida waters.
So what about the flesh-eating part of the bacteria? Apparently some media outlets got it wrong, Saludify included. This is mostly because many people who let the infection go untreated will see blistering lesions in their skin, but that’s a big difference from your flesh being consumed. The first signs of infection are usually fever and chills along with diarrhea,but it can quickly escalate to more severe symptoms such as septic shock and lesions. You can die if left untreated; that’s why health officials urge you to not ignore any of these signs and go to the doctor right away. The quicker you get the bacteria diagnosed, the quicker you can get on antibiotic treatment, and the more chances you avoid serious complications or death.