A report published recently in the Annals of Internal Medicine states that the recent unusually warm waters may be aiding in the spread of the bacteria known as “flesh-eating” to regions that were previously known to be non-endemic to the microorganism.
A team of infectious disease specialists, based in New Jersey at Cooper University Health Care, conducted a study. In the study, they found that rising temperatures in Delaware Bay was linked to five reported cases of recent that showed patients that were infected with the “flesh-eating” bacteria, one of which died.
Known by the scientific classification of V. vulnificus, the bacteria up until recently only showed reports of being known to be present in the southeastern part of the United States. The bacteria typically found in the estuaries and brackish type water areas—where salt water and fresh water meet and tend to mix together.
It is these conditions, as well as a surface temperature of above 13 degrees C that allows the bacteria to thrive. The “flesh-eating” disease, in fact, necrotizing fasciitis, is so referred to because of the speed at which it kills the soft tissues of the body.
Data from the study mentioned above shows that the V. vulnificus infection gains its entrance to the body means of either a break in the skin or the now suspected ingestion of raw or even uncooked seafood. It is then that the bacteria can cause an infection in the bloodstream, which in turn has a very high mortality rate—especially in those patients with either immunosuppression or cirrhosis.
Doctors are being made aware of the method and route of the bacteria’s spreading, so that they may, in turn, facilitate more rapid diagnosis and treatment. In this manner, the mortality rates of infection with V. vulnificus may be drastically reduced, if not eliminated overall.