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Alabama health officials issue warning about flesh-eating bacteria

State officials in Alabama have issued a warning to visitors and residents regarding flesh-eating bacteria “found in bodies of water throughout the state.” Those exposed to Vibrio often elicit symptoms within 24 hours that include but are not limited to: diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, fever, chills and nausea. Vibrio can be contracted by consuming contaminated seafood or by having open wounds exposed to seawater. It’s important to note that the dangerous bacteria can come from both brackish and salt water. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that nearly 80,000 people in the U.S. contract Vibrio on an annual basis, with 100 dying from the infection.

Persons with cuts or scrapes are encouraged to not enter the water at this time. Individuals that suffer cuts while in the water are urged to promptly “wash the wound with fresh water and soap, and to seek medical attention immediately.” People with open wounds or sores aren’t the only ones that should be mindful. Any “persons with low immune systems, cancer, diabetes, liver disease and chronic conditions [should] avoid eating raw and undercooked seafood -- especially oysters.”

If you reside in Alabama or have visited the Gulf Coast of the state recently it’s important to pay close attention to any symptoms that may arise. As Dr. Karen Landers, the assistant state health officer explains, “Sometimes, people contract Vibrio in the coastal region and do not become ill until they return to their county or state of residence." Visiting the doctor early after exposure is your best bet in staying healthy, as 80 percent of those who do so within 24 hours are fine.

To learn more about the dangerous flesh-eating bacteria, click here: