MICHAEL SMITH: Flesh eating
bacteria in the Gulf of Mexico? Well, it's technically not flesh
eating, and thankfully, rare. But it's still a scary story.
The bacteria vibrio
vulnificus can kill someone within 48 hours.
It lives in warm sea water.
It can get into the body through
an open wound, even a tiny one like an insect bite.
It can cause a life threatening
skin infection called necrotizing fasciitis.
The first symptoms usually
show up a few days later. Some people say it feels
like they pulled a muscle, but then the skin gets
red or purple and swells, and the pain gets worse.
In addition to the
skin infection, people can have
vomiting and diarrhea. The bacteria move fast
and destroy tissue around the muscles,
nerves, and blood vessels. People may need amputations
to save their life. But remember, severe infections
from vibrio are quite rare. Most deaths are people with
weakened immune systems. People get exposed
to the bacteria through being in the water or
by eating raw oysters, clams, and crabs.
To stay safe, the CDC recommends
staying out of the water if you have any wounds,
cooking all shellfish, which kills the bacteria,
and using gloves if you handle any raw seafood.
For WebMD, I'm
Dr. Michael Smith.