Health officials warn Americans of deadly flesh-eating bacteria

Health officials warn Americans of deadly flesh-eating bacteria

MIAMI (NewsNation) — Health officials are sounding the alarm over a rise in cases of a rare flesh-eating bacteria. So far this year, at least a dozen people have died from the infection across the U.S.

As cases of this rare flesh-eating bacteria go up, so does concern from health officials.

“It’s extremely dangerous,” said Dr. Afasr Ali, an environmental and global health professor at the University of Florida.

The Florida Department of Health has reported at least 26 cases statewide this year. Among those 26 cases, five people in the Tampa area have died from the vibrio vulnificus bacteria — the same bacteria that is being blamed for three deaths in the Northeast.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul warned Americans to stay vigilant and take responsible precautions. She said the virus was detected in a Long Island resident who died recently.

Two people in Connecticut also died from the bacteria, the state’s health department said.

“We have to understand the surface temperature of the water is extremely high, and that’s why it is expanding,” Ali said.

Vibrio thrives in warm waters where rivers and ocean water mix. Doctors say the virus can enter the body through an open cut or wound. Eating raw seafood like shellfish and oysters can also lead to serious infections.

“I’ll be a land dweller the rest of my life,” Beau Cook said.

Last year, Cook was infected with the rare flesh-eating bacteria — and survived.

“They took me to emergency surgery and that’s when they told my wife she better call the kids and any family,” Cook said.

The doctors told his wife that they didn’t think he would survive another 24 hours.

Cook spent 40 days in the hospital and underwent half a dozen surgeries.

“I love Baldwin County, but I don’t want to be in the water anymore,” Cook said.

In Florida, vibrio vulnificus has infected 565 people and killed 149 since 2008, according to the state health department.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that about 1 in 5 people who get the infection actually die from it.

“I would not be surprised to see this bacteria will be causing more infections and unfortunately deaths,” Ali said.

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