Vibrio vulnificus is a pathogen that appears more and more often in the Baltic Sea. Find out whether the “flesh-eating bacteria” is dangerous to humans and how infection occurs.
Vibrio vulnificus, also known as the “flesh-eating bacteria”, is a vibrio that lives in warm waters, mainly salty ones. It multiplies at temperatures above 16 degrees Celsius. So far, the pathogen occurred mainly in the United States, but for several years it has been appearing more and more often in Europe, also in Poland. This is due to global warming. We explain whether the Vibrio vulnificus bacterium poses a serious threat to humans and how infection occurs.
Who is most threatened by Vibrio vulnificus?
Infection with the Vibrio vulnificus bacteria occurs very rarely, usually through contact of damaged skin with infected water. The high-risk group includes primarily newborns, infants, small children, seniors, as well as people who struggle with impaired immunity or chronic diseases such as diabetes or hypertension. An additional factor that increases the likelihood of getting sick is swimming in the sea when you have open wounds on your body.
Symptoms of infection with “flesh-eating bacteria”
The first symptoms can be noticed shortly after contact with the pathogen. Symptoms of inflammation appear and progress very quickly. The clinical picture and course of infection with “flesh-eating bacteria” often resemble gas gangrene (gangrene). Swelling and redness appear around the damaged skin. The patient feels severe pain. A signal of developing vibriosis (a disease caused, among others, by Vibrio vulnificus) is also fever, burning skin, ear or conjunctivitis.
Why is the Vibrio vulnificus bacterium called “carnivorous”?
In the course of infection, necrotizing fasciitis occurs. As a result, the intervention of a surgeon becomes necessary and he must cut out the infected tissues to help the patient. Antibiotic therapy is also implemented to stop the development of the infection. Unfortunately, administering medications does not allow you to avoid surgery. The infection spreads very quickly.
How to protect yourself against infection with the Vibrio vulnificus bacteria?
The most important thing is to use common sense and not to enter the water if you have unhealed wounds, scratches or cuts on your body.
“Preventing infection with Vibrio species should result directly from the awareness of the threat consisting primarily in the assumption that environmental waters in the sea, rivers and lakes may be a habitat for infectious microorganisms. Therefore, simple infection prevention consists primarily in following basic hygiene rules. It is important to wash your hands with soap and water after contact with potentially contaminated environmental water,” we read in the materials prepared by the National Institute of Public Health – National Institute of Hygiene.
Before entering the water, every wound, even the smallest one, should be covered with a waterproof dressing. It is also worth strengthening the body’s overall immunity through physical activity and an appropriate diet. rich in fresh fruit and vegetables.