The Gulf of Mexico has been infested with a flesh-eating bacteria. The Louisiana Gulf Coast is concerned about this bacteria, after officials confirmed that four swimmers had contracted the infection, and one of them died because of complications related to the bacteria. Therefore the Gulf of Mexico claimed a swimmers life, but this time no sharks were involved. (And are nowhere to be found, the bacteria which did cause this fatality is found in of areas up, and down the Gulf.)
The victims supposedly contracted the flesh-eating bacteria when they were swimming in New Orleans, and Thibodaux, Louisiana. However, doctors claim that these bacteria aren’t limited to these areas. They can also be found in several other states, including Texas.
The bacteria, Vibrio vulnificus, can enter the body in two ways: if you eat raw shellfish they have access, and they can come into your body through an open wound. Vibrio vulnificus causes an infection, which is worse if the bacteria was present in the food, and therefore eaten.( The most common shellfish where the bacteria is found is in raw or undercooked oysters. It’s impossible to spot the Gulf of Mexico’s Vibrio vulnificus, because it does not alter the appearance, taste, or odor of oysters. Tilapia fish can have a “hand” in spreading this bacteria, because they can puncture your skin, and through this puncture wound the bacteria have the ability to enter your body. Albeit the tilapia might seem less terrifying than a shark, it still can be as deadly when the bacteria enters the swimmers’ puncture wound, and the person can’t fight off the Vibrio vulnificus, and it claims that person’s life. A very scary thought, even though the bacteria seems to come out of nowhere, it can still be as deadly as a shark attack.
Vibrio vulnificus is a species of Gram-negative, motile, curved, rod-shaped bacteria of the genus Vibrio. Dr. Peter Hotez, an infectious and tropical disease expert at Baylor College of Medicine, said: “You get bacteria into certain wounds, and they can cause a lot of tissue destruction by virtue of the fact that these bacteria produce enzymes that break down the tissue.”
In addition People with normal immune systems seldom have issues with fighting off the Vibrio influence, but those with weakened immune systems — including the young and elderly — can become seriously ill and die.
According to Wikipedia: “Vibrio vulnificus wound infections have a mortality of approximately 25%. In patients in whom the infection worsens into septicemia, typically following ingestion, the mortality rate rises dramatically to 50%. The majority of these patients die within the first 48 hours of infection.” There is a cure, but not yet an optimal one. Scientists are still researching the best way to battle this bacteria.
Health officials are warning everyone to be alert, because higher temperatures could increase the growth of potentially deadly bacteria. The Gulf of Mexico officials want others to be aware that the bacteria has claimed a swimmers life, and that these bacteria can be deadlier than a shark. (The sharks for now are nowhere to be found, which is a slight comfort.) The best way to avoid getting infected is the same advice as people give regarding safe sex. The best is abstinence, or in this case not swimming in these areas, and to refrain from eating raw shellfish. (Also when practicing abstinence one has no need for oysters.)
Do you live near these areas? What would be your best tip? One commenter claims; “swimming in a wet suit might be a solution”, or hunting down all tilapia fish. Maybe you aren’t worried at all and you don’t believe that around every corner there could be a potentially flesh-eating bacteria and therefore worrying about it is a waste of time?
By Georgina Pijttersen