Filthy floodwaters from Hurricane Ian drove wave of flesh-eating infections


A resident of Gulf Air mobile home park walks through floodwaters from Hurricane Ian through her neighborhood near Fort Myers Beach on September 29.
Enlarge / A resident of Gulf Air cellular dwelling park walks by floodwaters from Hurricane Ian by her neighborhood close to Fort Myers Seashore on September 29.

Within the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Ian, a few of Florida’s hardest-hit areas are going through a brand new menace—a wave of flesh-eating bacterial infections that may crest in sewage-contaminated floodwaters.

Within the weeks for the reason that pure catastrophe, authorities in Florida’s Lee County—which surrounds Fort Myers—have seen a surge in doubtlessly life-threatening Vibrio vulnificus infections. The micro organism are identified to lurk in heat coastal waters, however fester amid air pollution, significantly sewage spills.

This 12 months, Lee County tallied 29 infections—27 recognized within the aftermath of the hurricane—in addition to 4 deaths. For comparability, Lee County recorded simply 5 instances and one demise in 2021, and nil instances in 2020. Florida total has recorded 65 instances and 11 deaths in 2022, together with these from Lee County. The state complete is sort of double the totals from the previous two years.

“The Florida Division of Well being in Lee County is observing an irregular improve in instances of Vibrio vulnificus infections because of publicity to the floodwaters and standing waters following Hurricane Ian,” a Lee County well being division spokesperson advised CBS Information on Monday. The spokesperson went on to warn that “sewage spills, like these prompted from Hurricane Ian, could improve micro organism ranges,” and residents ought to “all the time concentrate on the potential dangers related when exposing open wounds, cuts, or scratches on the pores and skin to heat, brackish, or salt water.”

The excellent news is that the an infection just isn’t identified to move from individual to individual. However, those that are uncovered to floodwaters threat an infection by any wound or damaged pores and skin. Individuals may also be sickened by consuming uncooked or undercooked seafood harvested from bacteria-tainted waters.

In contaminated wounds, signs start with redness, swelling, and ache that may rapidly progress to a full-body an infection, resulting in grotesque blood-tinged pores and skin lesions (known as hemorrhagic bullae) and septic shock.

In line with the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention, V. vulnificus infections are deadly in about 40 p.c of total instances, although wound infections have a decrease fatality charge of about 20 p.c. Aggressive surgical therapies, together with amputation, to take away contaminated, rotting tissue can stop demise. These most in danger are individuals with compromised immune programs, and for foodborne infections, these with continual liver illness. Apart from surgical procedure for tissue infections, therapy consists of combos of antibiotics.


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