George Clark is “clinging to life” in a hospital in Florida this week after becoming the 27th person this year to be infected with Vibrio vulnificus in the state. The flesh-eating bacteria has already claimed nine victims in Florida this year after they got the bacteria into broken skin or open wounds. You can watch a local news report of it above.
Here is what you need to know:
1. Vibrio Vulnificus Breeds in Salt Water
In the same bacterial family as cholera, Vibrio vulnificus lives in warm sea water and requires salt to multiply.
The Center for Disease Control says that the illness is most commonly contracted when open wounds are exposed to salt water or when a person eats contaminated raw seafood. The illness most commonly found in infected oysters and other shellfish found in warm coastal water during summer months.
2. George Clarke Was Crabbing When He Was Infected
The most recent victim of the bacteria was George Clarke, 77, or Yulee, Florida. Clarke, a career fisherman, was crabbing last weekend when he was bit by a crab, enabling the bacteria to get into his system.
Likewise, the previous victim, Henry Konietzky, 59, was also infected while crabbing. Konietzky passed way a little over 24 hours after being infected, according the the Daily Mail.
3. Symptoms Include the Breaking Down of Skin
In health people, the V. vulnifivus bacteria can causes vomiting and diarrhea, but it can also lead to more serious ailments. Infected blood, liver disease, skin breakdown and ulceration are all possible.
In the case of George Clarke, after his arm turned black, doctors removed all of the skin and tissue off his infected arm all the way down to the muscle. Doctors are now optimistic that they will be able to save his arm.
4. The CDC Posted Ways to Avoid Infection
• Do not eat raw oysters or other raw shellfish.
• Cook shellfish (oysters, clams, mussels) thoroughly.
• For shellfish in the shell, either a) boil until the shells open and continue boiling for 5 more minutes, or b) steam until the shells open and then continue cooking for 9 more minutes.
• Do not eat those shellfish that do not open during cooking. Boil shucked oysters at least 3 minutes, or fry them in oil at least 10 minutes at 375°F.
• Avoid cross-contamination of cooked seafood and other foods with raw seafood and juices from raw seafood.
• Eat shellfish promptly after cooking and refrigerate leftovers.
• Avoid exposure of open wounds or broken skin to warm salt or brackish water, or to raw shellfish harvested from such waters.
• Wear protective clothing (e.g., gloves) when handling raw shellfish.