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Originally published June 18 2015

Deadly flesh-eating bacteria infect more swimmers in Florida

by L.J. Devon, Staff Writer

(NaturalNews) In the back of swimmers' minds as they play in the ocean surf is the thought of suddenly being ripped limb from limb by a renegade shark. The primal fear lingers within -- the fear of being caught helpless in a larger predator's territory. What is really lurking in the ocean waters? It turns out that there are other deadly dangers lurking in the ocean waters besides sharks. While there were 28 shark bites in Florida in 2014, none of them were fatal; most equated to nothing more than a dog bite. It turns out that it's not fins circling in the water that Florida swimmers should be looking out for.

A greater threat emerging in Florida's waters is a deadly flesh-eating bacteria that no one can even see. In fact, authorities for the Florida state health department report there have already been 32 cases of flesh-eating bacteria in the past 12 months. The number of debilitating infections increases from May through October because the bacterium thrives when the salt water is at its warmest.

ABC News reports that the flesh-eating bacteria "has already infected at least seven people and killed two this year in Florida." The effect of a Florida shark attack is mild in comparison to the destruction this flesh-eating bacterium can cause.

Flesh-eating bacteria attracted to open wounds

The flesh-eating bacteria is identified as Vibrio vulnificus and is quick to infect swimmers with exposed wounds. It can also infect those who eat raw shellfish or mishandle raw oysters, where most strains of the bacteria are isolated each year. The bacteria thrive in salt water with a temperature that is between 68 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit. If swimmers are scared of sharks smelling their blood, they should be doubly afraid of exposing their open wounds to the deadly Vibrio vulnificus.

"People can get infected with Vibrio vulnificus when they eat raw shellfish," Florida Health Department spokeswoman Mara Burger reports. "Since it is naturally found in warm marine waters, people with open wounds can be exposed to Vibrio vulnificus through direct contact with seawater."

More dangerous than sharks: bacterial infection could lead to amputation

For those who aren't aware they are infected and don't get treated in time, the infection could lead to vomiting, diarrhea, chills, and abdominal pain. In serious cases, it can cause infection of the blood. Open wound infections are the worst, leading to blistering lesions, skin breakdown and the development of necrotic tissue. In some cases, amputations are needed as a last resort to save a person's life. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control warns immune-compromised individuals and those with liver disease to avoid raw, undercooked, or mishandled oysters and shellfish, especially between the months of May and October.

While sharks might seem like the most imminent threat in the mysterious ocean waters, there is actually a more dangerous and deadly foe lurking out of sight, out of mind. The flesh-eating Vibrio vulnificus bacterium could lead to the loss of a limb or even your life.


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