Eating bacteria living in the ocean can spread along the beaches of the East Coast due to climate change, according to a new report.
Vibrio vulnificus, usually found in warmer waters over 55 degrees, such as the Gulf of Mexico, climbs up the coast as ocean waters continue to warm up, the authors of the report found.
There have been five cases of bacterial infections caused by meat in humans exposed to Delaware Bay, according to a report released this week in
Anal of Internal Diseases
of six authors from Cooper University Hospital in New Jersey.
There were five cases of carnivorous bacteria associated with Delaware Bay activity between 201
One patient died while others suffered catastrophic injuries, including one person who was amputated with four limbs. The authors note that each patient had a compromised immune system during infection.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are approximately 205 infections of V. vulnificus that are reported throughout the country every year. The study found that higher water temperatures in the United States led to "longer summer seasons and … changes in the quantity, distribution and seasonal windows of the bacteria" in the coastal ecosystem, providing "more favorable conditions for Vibrio" .
The report notes that although this infection is still rare, this remote northerly, it has become more widespread on the East Coast in recent years.
V. vulnificus usually constricts when an open wound is exposed to contaminated water or by eating raw or insufficiently fit clam that has been exposed to the bacteria.
"We believe clinicians should be aware of the possibility that V. vulnificus infections may appear more often outside of traditional geographical areas," the authors write in the report.
The authors note that physicians who may not be aware of bacteria and infections that are fed by the flesh should be "aware of the possibility that V. vulnificus infections may occur more often outside of traditional geographical areas."
According to Mayo Clinic health officials, "a disease caused by flesh eating occurs when bacteria enter the body through a disruption of the skin. People with a weakened immune system may be at greater risk of developing this condition. The condition is spreading rapidly. Symptoms include blisters, fever, fatigue and pain worse than one would expect based on the appearance of the wound. "
Treatment includes the immediate delivery of IV antibiotics. Surgical removal of dead or contaminated tissue from the wound is often required.
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