A swim in Louisiana waters along the Gulf of Mexico has resulted in the death of one man who contracted a flesh-eating bacteria.
An 83-year-old Terrebonne Parish man is dead and three others have since fallen ill as a result of Vibrio vulnificus, flesh-eating infections, reports The Epoch Times. The bacterium was first isolated in 1976, often present in marine environments such as estuaries, brackish ponds, or coastal areas. V. vulnificus is related to V. cholerae, the causative agent of cholera.
Infection with V. vulnificus typically leads to rapidly expanding cellulitis, gastroenteritis, or septicemia – potentially life-threatening inflammatory conditions.
Primary septicemia and gastroenteritis occurs after ingesting food – like contaminated seafood – or water containing V. vulnificus. The consumed bacteria invade the bloodstream via the digestive tract.
The symptoms are characterized by fever and chills, accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Skin lesions, painful blisters can develop and quickly erode into necrotic ulcers from septicemia.
Wound infection results when skin lacerations or abrasions come in direct contact with seawater containing V. vulnificus, reports the Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference (ISSC).
These infections typically begin with swelling, redness, and intense pain around the infected site. Fluid-filled blisters develop and progress to tissue necrosis in a rapid and severe process resembling gangrene or necrotizing fasciitis (flesh-eating).
Fifty percent of patients with V. vulnificus infected wounds require surgical debridement or amputation as the flesh-eating or septic poisoning effect can progress to other parts of the body. In some patients, infection spreads into the bloodstream and can result in death.
The group had been fishing and swimming near New Orleans and Thibodaux. The 83-year-old man who died had been fishing on a boat when water splashed onto an open wound.
Others who became ill were a 71-year-old Iberville Parish man who cut himself on a fishing hook; a 43-year-old Calcasieu Parish man who cut his foot on an oyster reef in the water; and a 76-year-old St. Bernard Parish man who got seawater into an open wound, reports The Town Talk.
Two of those were treated and released and one still remains in the hospital.
The cases have prompted the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals to warn swimmers to be careful about swimming with open wounds or infections in certain areas, as V. vulnificus is commonly found in the Gulf of Mexico, where more than a dozen people have died from the flesh-eating, septic infection since 2000.
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