The aftermath of Hurricane Ian has led to an increase in reports of a rare flesh-eating bacterial infection in Florida.
As of Friday, there have been 65 cases of Vibrio vulnificus and 11 deaths in the state so far this year, according to the Florida Department of Health. It is higher than the 34 cases and 10 deaths reported in 2021.
Many infections — often referred to as “flesh-eating” bacterial infections — occur in Lee County, where Ian It made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane on September 28.
Of the 29 infections and four deaths recorded in Lee County, all but two were diagnosed after the hurricane, CNN reported.
Collier County reported three cases believed to be related to the storm.
“[The Florida Department of Health in Lee County] A spokesman told the broadcaster that an unusual increase in V. vulnificus infections was being observed due to exposure to flooding and standing water following Cyclone Ian.
“Since September 29, 2022, 26 cases of Vibrio vulnificus have been reported to DOH-Lee in connection with Hurricane Ian. All 26 cases were due to exposure to storm surge into the home or Ian during the post-storm period Infected wounds from hurricane flooding. Clean up. Six of Lee County residents died.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, V. vulnificus is considered “flesh-eating” because the infection can lead to necrotizing fasciitis, a serious infection in which the flesh around an open wound dies. It’s not the only type of bacteria that can cause infection.
V. vulnificus typically lives in warm brackish sea water, and infection is rare, the Florida Department of Health said.
“Water and wound do not mix,” it advises. “If you have new cuts or abrasions, please don’t go into the water.”
In a fact sheet on flood safety, it said people with open cuts and wounds should avoid skin contact with flood water.
People can also become infected with Vibrio vulnificus when they eat raw shellfish, especially oysters.
Infection can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. It can also lead to skin infections when open wounds are exposed to warm seawater, which can lead to breakouts and ulcers. It can also invade the bloodstream and cause serious and life-threatening illness with symptoms including fever, chills, drop in blood pressure and blistering of the skin.