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Warning: Flesh-Eating Bacteria on the Rise in Chesapeake Bay

The start of summer in Maryland holds many promises for residents and tourists, alike. Maryland summer can involve beaches, crab-fests, and a cold, icy platter of fresh oysters and clams. Even though these images are picturesque, there are certain issues that all Marylanders and tourists should be wary of when choosing a beach for sunbathing and swimming, and for finding their shellfish.

According to studies, with the temperature rising in the oceans, the Chesapeake bay and several of its tributaries are harboring a harmful bacteria known as Vibrio vulnificus scientifically and colloquially as flesh-eating bacteria. Though this may sound more like science fiction than truth, several people have been attacked by this flesh-eating bacteria and have been left as amputees, or worse, dead.

How the Bacterial Infection Spreads from the Bay to a Victim

This deadly bacteria can cause an infection to any person who either ingested or consumed raw or undercooked shellfish or waded through infected water with an open wound. This could be as simple as a cut on one’s finger that then comes into contact with the bacteria while wading or swimming in the Bay The Chesapeake Bay and its other tributaries are a perfect hiding place for this bacteria due to the brackishness of the water and the high salinity. These factors, coupled with the fact that the temperature of the water is rising due to climate change, breeds a perfect storm for these bacteria. The bacteria lies dormant once the water temperature dips below 40 degrees, but once it warms up, the bacteria comes back to life. One could safely get oysters during the winter, but as soon as the oysters are warmed up, the bacteria could be incubated and activated.

Risk Factors Associated with the Bacterial Infection

The incidence of these flesh-eating bacteria maiming or killing anyone is rare: Annually, there are fewer than 100 cases identified in the United States. The bacteria strains are on the rise, however, and there are anywhere between 12 to 30 million Americans who have health risks that increase their risk of infection. The health factors that can lead to increased risk of infection is liver disease, HIV infection, cancer, and diabetes. Additionally, anyone who has a compromised immune system is at risk. The risk increases during the summer months of May through October, and if the individual is between the ages of 40 to 59.

Medical Professionals Having Difficult Time Diagnosing Vibrio in Victims

What can make the bacteria even more dangerous is that medical professionals have little to no experience with diagnosing it. Once a person is infected with the bacteria, there is a fatality rate of between 50 to 60%. The longer it takes for the medical professionals to diagnose this flesh-eating bacteria as the problem, the higher the risk of fatality. Receiving an antibacterial treatment in the first 24 hours is paramount to saving one’s life. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in four people who are infected with the bacteria die within a day or two of developing symptoms.

Charles County, MD Personal Injury Lawyers that Fight for You

Though the flesh eating bacteria has been a rare occurrence, the incidence of infection is on the rise. Because of how fast moving and fatal the bacteria is, medical professionals should be diagnosing and treating the infection as soon as possible. If you or a loved one is misdiagnosed and is harmed as a result, it is important to consult with an experienced Waldorf personal injury attorney. Please call the Law Office of Robert R. Castro at (301) 804-2312 for a confidential consultation.