ISSN 2330-717X

Climate Change May Have Brought Flesh-Eating Infection To Previously Unaffected Waters

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Rising water temperatures in the Delaware Bay may be to blame for cases of Vibrio vulnificus, a flesh-eating infection that can occur after handling or consumption of seafood, seen in the area. Findings from a case report are published in Annals of Internal Medicine.

V vulnificus is endemic to the southeastern U.S. coast. Cases have also been reported from the Chesapeake Bay but are rarely reported from the Delaware Bay, which is farther north and slightly cooler.

Wound infections occur through breaks in the skin, and intestinal infections occur after consumption of seafood. Either route can lead to bloodstream infections, and the mortality rate is high.

Researchers from Cooper University Hospital describe five cases of V vulnificus necrotizing fasciitis that occurred during the summer months of 2017 and 2018 after water exposure and/or consumption of crabs in the Delaware Bay. All of the patients received prompt medical attention and surgical management, and four survived.

The study authors suggest that these cases should serve as an alert to clinicians that V vulnificus infections are occurring more frequently outside traditional geographic areas.

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