Houston, Texas. – The so-called flesh-eating bacterium, whose scientific name is Vibrio vulnificus, caused the death of a person who ate raw oysters in Galveston, Texas, according to local health authorities.
The victim was a resident between the ages of 30 and 40 with underlying health conditions that predisposed him to infection with the bacteria, according to a Galveston County Health Department report released Sept. 8.
This man’s death from the flesh-eating bacteria joins at least 13 others reported in the United States in 2023: six in Florida, three in North Carolina, two in Connecticut, one in New York and one in Missouri in May and September 2023, according to local health department records.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2023 saw an increase in the number of serious infections and deaths attributed to the Vibrio vulnificus bacterium.
The agency explained that this increase is linked to an increase in sea temperatures in coastal areas due to heat waves.
The CDC issued a health alert on Sept. 1 to warn about these infections, most of which were transmitted through open wounds in coastal waters and some others through consumption of raw shellfish.
This causes the body to eat flesh-eating bacteria from eating raw oysters.
Flesh-eating, or flesh-eating, bacteria got this nickname because when people become infected with it through a cut on the body, it causes a very aggressive infection with sores and blisters, and the flesh around the injury rots or becomes gangrenous, according to the CDC.
However, the same bacteria can be transmitted by eating oysters or other raw seafood, and the effects on the infected person’s body are similar: blood poisoning occurs, which can lead to death, Univision explained. 45 Dr. Luis Ostrosky, chief of infectious diseases at UT Health.
“If you ingest the bacteria, they can move from the intestines into the bloodstream and spread throughout the body, producing toxins and causing what’s called septic shock,” Ostrosky said.
The most common symptoms of Vibrio vulnificus infection after eating raw and contaminated shellfish are usually very severe diarrhea, completely watery and sometimes bloody, the expert added.
From then on, the patient develops septicemia, which manifests itself as high fever, low blood pressure, mental confusion and, in some cases, blistering all over the body.
Ostrosky says the two forms of Vibrio vulnificus infection are equally common. However, when people hear about the flesh-eating bacteria and photos of these infections appear due to the bacteria’s contact with cuts, the cases are much more noticeable.
Danger to life due to infection with flesh-eating bacteria
In the United States, between 150 and 200 infections of Vibrio vulnificus, a flesh-eating bacteria, are reported to the CDC each year, and about one in five people with the infection die, sometimes one to two days after becoming ill.
According to a CDC statement, several states on the East Coast reported serious and fatal infections with this bacteria between July and August 2023.
Many of those infections arose after people with an open wound were exposed to coastal waters, and some others were linked to eating raw or undercooked shellfish, the agency said.
Infection from cuts occurs not only when you go into the ocean, where the bacteria multiply, but also when the wound comes into contact with raw and contaminated fish and shellfish or their juices or splashes, the CDC warns.
An infection with flesh-eating bacteria is difficult to treat
Vibrio vulnificus infections are very difficult to treat, even though the bacterium is susceptible to common antibiotics, explained Dr. Ostrosky.
“This is a truly out-of-control infection and unfortunately people are sometimes hesitant to seek medical attention. Timely administration of antibiotics makes the difference,” he said.
The most serious and sometimes fatal Vibrio vulnificus infections usually occur in people who have an immune system problem, such as diabetes or liver cirrhosis, or who have received a transplant, Ostrosky says.
According to the doctor, anyone with a normal immune system can easily control infections caused by these bacteria.
However, he warns that there is always some risk because there are small defects in the immune system that the person may not know are there.
“We never know who has an undiagnosed immune system defect… so in general I know raw seafood, ceviches, cocktails, oysters and everything are very tasty, but there is some risk, even for people with a normal immune system. ” said.