"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

CDC issues warning about rare, deadly flesh-eating bacteria

September 5, 2023 – The CDC has issued an alert about cases of a rare flesh-eating bacteria that has killed 13 people within the eastern United States this 12 months.

About 200 Americans report Vibrio vulnificus infections every year, and about one-fifth of those infections end in death, sometimes inside only a day or two, the CDC said.

The health alert states: “Wound infections with V. vulnificus have a short incubation period and are characterized by necrotic infections of the skin and soft tissue.” Many infected people “require intensive care or limb amputation.” Some infections result in death of the flesh around open wounds.

The CDC said that extreme weather events reminiscent of floods, hurricanes and storm surges could cause “coastal waters to push inland, endangering people exposed to those waters.”

Authorities reported at the least one death in New York, two in Connecticut, three in North Carolina and 7 in Florida this 12 months.

“Although infections caused by the bacteria were reported primarily on the Gulf Coast, infections in the eastern United States increased eightfold from 1988 to 2018,” The Washington Post reported. “During the same period, the northern geographic range of infections has increased by 30 miles each year. This year's infections occurred during a time of warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures on the coast.”

The bacteria live from May to October and thrive in warm waters “in low-salinity marine environments such as estuaries,” the CDC says.

No human-to-human cases have been recorded. The bacteria are transmitted when an open wound is exposed to salt or brackish water. People with liver disease and diabetes are at higher risk.