Filthy floodwaters from Hurricane Ian drove wave of flesh-eating infections


A resident of Gulf Air mobile home park walks through floodwaters from Hurricane Ian through her neighborhood near Fort Myers Beach on September 29.
Enlarge / A resident of Gulf Air cell dwelling park walks by floodwaters from Hurricane Ian by her neighborhood close to Fort Myers Seaside on September 29.

Within the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Ian, a few of Florida’s hardest-hit areas are dealing with a brand new menace—a wave of flesh-eating bacterial infections that may crest in sewage-contaminated floodwaters.

Within the weeks because the pure catastrophe, authorities in Florida’s Lee County—which surrounds Fort Myers—have seen a surge in doubtlessly life-threatening Vibrio vulnificus infections. The micro organism are identified to lurk in heat coastal waters, however fester amid air pollution, significantly sewage spills.

This yr, Lee County tallied 29 infections—27 recognized within the aftermath of the hurricane—in addition to 4 deaths. For comparability, Lee County recorded simply 5 circumstances and one loss of life in 2021, and nil circumstances in 2020. Florida general has recorded 65 circumstances and 11 deaths in 2022, together with these from Lee County. The state complete is sort of double the totals from the previous two years.

“The Florida Division of Well being in Lee County is observing an irregular enhance in circumstances of Vibrio vulnificus infections on account of publicity to the floodwaters and standing waters following Hurricane Ian,” a Lee County well being division spokesperson instructed CBS Information on Monday. The spokesperson went on to warn that “sewage spills, like these brought on from Hurricane Ian, could enhance micro organism ranges,” and residents ought to “all the time concentrate on the potential dangers related when exposing open wounds, cuts, or scratches on the pores and skin to heat, brackish, or salt water.”

The excellent news is that the an infection isn’t identified to move from individual to individual. However, those that are uncovered to floodwaters danger an infection by any wound or damaged pores and skin. Folks can be sickened by consuming uncooked or undercooked seafood harvested from bacteria-tainted waters.

In contaminated wounds, signs start with redness, swelling, and ache that may rapidly progress to a full-body an infection, resulting in ugly blood-tinged pores and skin lesions (referred to as hemorrhagic bullae) and septic shock.

In response to the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention, V. vulnificus infections are deadly in about 40 % of general circumstances, although wound infections have a decrease fatality charge of about 20 %. Aggressive surgical therapies, together with amputation, to take away contaminated, rotting tissue can stop loss of life. These most in danger are folks with compromised immune programs, and for foodborne infections, these with persistent liver illness. In addition to surgical procedure for tissue infections, therapy contains combos of antibiotics.