A “Flesh-Eating” virus that’s spread by seafood consumption has increased eight-fold since 1988, and experts say climate change is the reason why. Find out how you can avoid Florida’s flesh-eating problem.
Experts Warn of Alarming Rise
As ocean temperatures continue to soar due to the far-reaching impacts of climate change, a concerning surge in “flesh-eating” Vibrio vulnificus infections is rattling the Eastern U.S. coast.
Florida’s Flesh-Eating Alert
With more than 40 reported cases in Florida this year alone, health experts are sounding the alarm about the growing threat of these deadly infections.
A Deadly Threat
Vibrio vulnificus, a bacterium that thrives in warm, slightly salty waters, poses a significant health risk to all coastal communities.
Climate Change Linked to Undercooked Seafood
This microorganism, often associated with undercooked seafood, has shown a notable increase in infections, potentially linked to climate change.
Rising Infections and Lethal Consequences
Among the 43 reported infections in Florida this year, the bacterium has claimed the lives of ten individuals.
Huge Fatality Percentage
This surge in infections shows a 23% death rate and is a cause for concern.
Climate Change’s Role
Experts have observed a stark rise in Vibrio vulnificus infections over the last two years, a stark contrast to the previous four years, linked to transmission seasons lasting longer because of rising sea temperatures.
The landfall of Hurricane Ian in 2022 significantly contributed to the surge in Vibrio vulnificus infections.
More Florida Fatalities – Bearing The Brunt
Florida witnessed 74 cases and 17 fatalities, raising concerns about the potential for future outbreaks linked to extreme weather events.
How To Avoid Infections
Vibrio vulnificus infections can occur when individuals swim in the sea with open wounds, even minor ones like paper cuts.
Careful What You Consume
Consuming contaminated oysters and shellfish is another avenue for infection, causing symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.
Infection through an open wound can lead to severe complications, including skin breakdown and ulcers.
The bacterium may also invade the bloodstream, resulting in fever, chills, decreased blood pressure, and blistering skin lesions.
A Unique “Flesh-Eating” Bacterium
Vibrio vulnificus is one of the few bacteria capable of causing “flesh-eating” infections, devouring skin, muscles, nerves, fat, and blood vessels.
Health Officials’ Warning
Health officials have strongly advised individuals with open wounds to refrain from swimming in the sea to minimize their risk of infection.
Food Safety Measures
The Florida Department of Health has recommended against consuming raw oysters and raw shellfish.
Additionally, protective clothing, such as gloves, should be worn when handling raw shellfish.
A Wider Concern Beyond Florida
Vibrio vulnificus cases have also been reported in Long Island, New York, and Connecticut this year. In New York, a person was hospitalized after consuming raw oysters.
Climate Change’s Role in Spreading Infections
A study has identified the expansion of Vibrio vulnificus infections as they spread northward up the Eastern U.S. coast due to warming coastal waters.
Climate change is a significant factor contributing to this spread.
The Alarming Rate of Spread
Research reveals that Vibrio vulnificus infections have increased eightfold between 1988 and 2018, with the bacteria moving northward at a rate of about 30 miles per year.
A Disturbing Forecast
Scientists are concerned that, if climate change continues unabated, Vibrio vulnificus could potentially affect every coastal state in the U.S. by 2040.
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