Preventing Vibrio - FOX10 News | WALA

Preventing Vibrio

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Preventing Vibrio. Photo: FOX10 News Preventing Vibrio. Photo: FOX10 News

FOX10 News is going the extra mile to make sure you know all you need to about vibrio bacteria. Four cases of a flesh-eating bacteria have been confirmed in Mobile County this year. Two of those are from the waters near Dauphin Island. The other two were from eating contaminated oysters.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, vibriosis causes 80,000 illnesses in the United States every year. About 52,000 cases are estimated to be the result of eating contaminated food. About 80% of infections occur between May and October when water temperatures are warmer.

Dr. Edward Panacek, the head of emergency medicine at USA Medical Center, stopped by our studio to explain how you can protect yourself. You can watch the interview in the accompanying video. Dr. Panacek says the type of infection contracted from eating contaminated food comes from a different species of vibrio than one referred to as flesh-eating bacteria.

The most commonly reported species, Vibrio parahaemolyticus, is the result of eating contaminated food. Vibrio parahaemolyticus is estimated to cause 45,000 illnesses each year in the United States. Vibrio vulnificus is a result of an open wound coming in contact with the vibrio bacteria.  Most people with a mild case of vibriosis recover after about 3 days with no lasting effects. However, people with a V. vulnificus infection can get seriously ill and need intensive care or limb amputation. About a quarter of people with this type of infection die, sometimes within a day or two of becoming ill.

To reduce your chance of getting vibriosis, don't eat raw or undercooked shellfish, such as oysters. If you have a wound (including cuts and scrapes), avoid contact with brackish or salt water or cover the wound with a waterproof bandage if there's a possibility it could come into contact with brackish or salt water, raw seafood, or raw seafood juices.

People with compromised immune systems, especially those with chronic liver disease, are more likely to get vibriosis. Eating raw seafood, particularly oysters, and exposing open wounds to brackish or salt water can increase a person's chance for getting vibriosis.

According to the CDC’s website, because Vibrio bacteria are not easily identified with routine testing, many cases are not reported.

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