Rise in flesh-eating bacteria could be result of climate change, experts warn

Henrietta Strickland
June 20, 2019

Dr. Katherine Doktor, an infectious disease specialist at Cooper University Health Care, told NBC News she wants doctors to be aware of the bacteria's spread to facilitate more rapid diagnosis, which is key in treating patients infected with V. vulnificus.

The study says that the bacteria vibrio vulnificus is ordinarily found along the southeastern coast of the United States, sometimes as far north as the Chesapeake Bay, but not in the cooler water of the Delaware Bay.

A flesh-eating bacteria has made its way up the coast to the Delaware Bay, possibly thanks to increasingly warm water temperatures, researchers warn in a new study.

Scientists suspect that the increase is recent cases is due to climate change, which has increased the temperature of the water creating the flawless condition for the bacteria. All five ranged in ages between 28 and 64 years old, and encountered the nasty bacteria between July 2017 and September 2018 in different areas, according to the report. The disease's fatality rate is also concerning; the Centers for Disease Control estimates that there are a little more than 200 infections every year, nationwide, with more than one in seven of those infections resulting in death.

People with compromised immune systems, liver disease, and other chronic diseases are more likely to contract the infection and suffer severe complications, according to the CDC. The infections can occur due to breaks in the skin (such as open wounds), or intestinally after eating seafood, according to the Annals of Internal Medicine report.

For those with a mild case, it'll typically go away in three days with no lasting effects.

Most cases of V. vulnificus in the US were, in the past, recorded in the southeastern part of the country. Furthermore, swimmers - especially those with any cuts, scrapes, or open wounds healing on their body - should avoid salt water and/or brackish water (a mixture of fresh and salt water) this summer, particularly across the eastern seaboard as water temperatures continue to warm.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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