Sunday, July 27, 2014

In warmed Chesapeake Bay waters, a deadly virus lurks

Rodney Donald, at MedStar Washington Hospital Center
"The last thing Rodney Donald was expecting during his family’s vacation on the Chesapeake Bay was to almost lose a leg to an aggressive bacteria growing in the brackish waters," Caelainn Hogan writes today in the Washington Post.
 
“I've grown up on the bay my whole life, and I’m 66,” said Donald, propped up in a bed at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, his right leg stretched out, swathed in bandages. “I’d never even heard about it.”

Vibrio vulnificus, of the same family as vibrio cholera, is a rapid-spreading flesh-eating bacteria that naturally occurs in saltwater or estuaries, particularly from May to October."
 
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Two strains of the pathogen, vulnificus and parahaemolyticus, can be picked up from eating raw seafood, particularly oysters, causing symptoms similar to food poisoning. In high-risk areas, thorough cooking of all shellfish is recommended.
Vulnificus can cause an invasive infection of the skin when even a small cut or graze is exposed to water containing the bacteria. The first symptoms include redness or swelling of the skin, followed by lesions.
Those who harvest oysters are particularly at risk because they frequently cut their hands and legs on the sharp shells and rocks.

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