Flesh Eating Bacteria Infections Are Way Up. Here Is What You Need To Know.

Red Tide In The Ocean

As a result of catastrophic flooding caused by Hurricane Ian, infections with a rare flesh-eating bacteria increased in Florida.

In 2021, there were 34 Vibrio vulnificus cases and 10 deaths reported across the state. As of Friday, there have been 65 cases and 11 deaths.

Lee County, which includes Fort Myers and Sanibel Island in Southwest Florida, is where most of the infections occur. Ian made landfall on September 28 as a Category 4 storm there.

Hurricane Ian’s aftermath: what Florida residents need to know

In Lee County, the Florida Department of Health warned residents about Vibrio vulnificus risks on October 3.

“We are urging the public to take precautions against infection and illness caused by Vibrio vulnificus as the post-storm situation evolves,” said DOH-Lee spokesperson Tammy Soliz said in an email to news outlet CNN.

During the floods and standing water that followed Hurricane Ian, DOH-Lee has observed an abnormal increase in Vibrio vulnificus infections. As of September 29, 2022, 26 cases of Vibrio vulnificus have been reported to DOH-Lee as a result of Hurricane Ian. As a result of Hurricane Ian floodwaters entering their homes or during post-storm cleanup, all 26 cases had wounds that were infectious. In Lee County, there have been six deaths.”

According to Florida Department of Health data, Lee County had two Vibrio vulnificus cases and the state had 37 cases before the storm.

“Our trends show that cases have actually declined [since the storm], which is very positive,” Florida Department of Health spokesperson Jae Williams said.

Here are some things you should know about Vibrio bacteria

Humans are infected by Vibrio vulnificus through undercooked shellfish consumption and skin wounds caused by the bacterium in warm saltwater.

Flooding is a major cause of infections, Williams said. Ian “brought astronomical floods that not all hurricanes bring.”

John Nightbridge is a veteran reporter, researcher, and economic policy major from UCLA. Passionate about world issues and potential ways to solve them is a significant focus of his work. Writing freelance and reading the news are John's passions at work. Outside of work, it's all about sky diving, surfing, and stock market modeling.