Vibrio vulnificus! Although it sounds like a spell straight out of a Harry Potter book, it’s actually the scientific name for what’s been commonly referred to as “flesh-eating” bacteria. You may have heard reports about the bacteria in our area, and are probably wondering if you should be worried about it. ProHealth waves our magic wand over the facts…
First of all, vibrio is RARE. Only about 50 cases a year are reported from the Gulf Coast region, and most are not deadly. Vibrio is a naturally-occurring bacteria that lurks in warm, brackish waters, and is most prevalent May-October. Most people who contract vibrio do so by consuming raw seafood, particularly oysters. The other way to contract it is by exposing an open wound to it. If the wound is not treated, it can escalate, causing death of the surrounding tissue. This is where vibrio gets the “flesh-eating” association. Vibrio is not contagious from person to person.
You don’t have to be scared of contracting vibrio or avoid swimming at the beach; just be aware and take steps to prevent contracting it. Most cases of vibrio go unnoticed or are treated with a round of antibiotics. Vibro can be more complicated in people who have compromised immune systems. Some of the symptoms of foodborne vibrio are vomiting and diarrhea. Symptoms of waterborne vibrio can include fever, redness and swelling at wound site, and pain at the site.
Simple precautions can help you avoid vibrio. Here are some do’s and don’ts:
- Enter saltwater with an open wound.
- Eat any raw seafood if you have a compromised immune system.
- Try to ride out vibrio. Symptoms can worsen quickly, and cause major health issues if untreated.
- Cook all seafood thoroughly before eating. Eat raw seafood (especially oysters) with caution.
- Clean all cuts and scraped acquired near the beach or near saltwater immediately.
- Wear foot protection on rocky beaches to prevent cuts.
- See a medical professional if you notice symptoms of vibrio.
So don’t let vibrio consume your thoughts! Instead of waiting for hours at the ER or trying to schedule an appointment with a doctor, people with symptoms or concerns about vibrio can see a medical professional at ProHealth Medical Care. Walk-ins are welcome and wait times are short so people can go back to enjoying their day. Also, a visit to ProHealth is just $59, potentially hundreds less than an ER visit.