If you have an open wound, be sure to stay out of wa­ter

Maryland Independent - - Community Forum -

Not long ago, I read some re­cent re­ports about some cases of Vib­rio vul­nifi­cus in Mary­land. I would like to clar­ify some in­for­ma­tion. There are roughly a dozen species that are known to cause vib­rio­sis in hu­mans, with the most com­mon in the United States be­ing Vib­rio para­haemolyti­cus, Vib­rio vul­nifi­cus and Vib­rio al­gi­nolyti­cus. The vib­rio species that cause vib­rio­sis nat­u­rally live in brack­ish or salt wa­ter.

Vib­rio has been around for thou­sands of years. The in­tro­duc­tion of some pol­lu­tants such as ni­tro­gen has caused some of the bac­te­ria to be­come al­tered from its nat­u­ral be­nign state. Peo­ple with vib­rio­sis be­come in­fected by con­sum­ing raw or un­der­cooked seafood or ex­pos­ing an open wound to sea wa­ter.

Most in­fec­tions oc­cur from May through Oc­to­ber when the wa­ter is warmer.

Vib­rio is a bac­terium, which is a liv­ing cell con­sist­ing of a fluid called cy­to­plasm en­closed by a cell mem­brane and cell wall. A bac­terium con­tains DNA in the cy­to­plasm in the form of a chro­mo­some. It is im­por­tant to note that a bac­terium is a form of life. How­ever, it does not breathe. It doesn’t have lungs. There have been sev­eral cases of Vib­rio vul­nifi­cus which was caused by a crab pot pulled out of an area where Vib­rio vul­nifi­cus was present. The crab pot had a loose wire that punc­tured the per­son’s skin, thus in­ject­ing the per­son. In a sep­a­rate case, a crab that was caught in an area where Vib­rio vul­nifi­cus was present pinched the per­son, break­ing the skin. That pro­vided an open wound for the Vib­rio vul­nifi­cus to en­ter. In a third case, a per­son stepped on an oys­ter shell bare­foot. Since Vib­rio vul­nifi­cus was present in the wa­ter the oys­ter shell caused the open wound, thus al­low­ing it an area to in­fect the per­son. In an­other in­stance, a per­son caught a rock­fish in an area where Vib­rio vul­nifi­cus was present. A part of the fish punc­tured the per­son’s skin, thus in­ject­ing bac­te­ria into the per­son. A com­mon fac­tor in each of these cases is that it took a very small amount of wa­ter where this bac­terium was present to in­fect the per­son. A small drop where vib­rio is present is all it takes.

In each of these cases, pre­ven­tion is the key to pre­vent­ing in­fec­tion. Rub­ber gloves should be worn when han­dling crab pots, crabs and fish. Wa­ter shoes with soles should be worn if your feet can touch the bot­tom. Check your­self and chil­dren for open wounds prior to go­ing in the wa­ter. If you have an open wound, stay out of the wa­ter.

If you be­lieve you may have been in­fected with Vib­rio vul­nifi­cus or any other of this bac­te­ria fam­ily, im­me­di­ate med­i­cal at­ten­tion can be the dif­fer­ence be­tween life and death. Vi­bro vul­nifi­cus is of­ten mis­di­ag­nosed in hos­pi­tal emer­gency rooms. Doc­tors have been known to im­prop­erly iden­tify the in­fec­tion and treat the pa­tient with stan­dard an­tibi­otics. Third-gen­er­a­tion an­tibi­otics, as rec­om­mended by the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion, is the rec­om­mended course of treat­ment. If stan­dard an­tibi­otics are used, the in­fec­tion can still spread since it is still not treated prop­erly. Once in your body, the bac­terium will move rapidly.

Doc­tors have been known to try and con­trol the spread by am­pu­ta­tion of the in­fected area. How­ever, a proper course of treat­ment by third-gen­er­a­tion an­tibi­otics im­me­di­ately af­ter be­ing in­fected can be the dif­fer­ence be­tween life and death. If not treated prop­erly, death can oc­cur within 48 hours. Ed­u­ca­tion is the key. Roy Fed­ders, Dameron

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