The state of Florida (United States) was violently affected by Hurricane Ian at the end of September with no less than 102 deaths. But it wasn’t just the storm itself that killed. A ‘flesh-eating’ bacteria, called Vibrio vulnificus, grew in the days after the storm passed due to flooding and standing water, reports Slate.
Humans can become infected with this bacterium after consuming undercooked shellfish or through injury. Those most at risk are those with a weakened immune system or suffering from liver disease. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Vibrio vulnificus infects 80,000 people and causes 100 deaths each year in the United States.
A worrying rise in the death toll
Symptoms can be mild: abdominal cramps, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, fever or chills. But the bacteria can also cause blood infections, blistering rashes, and even lead to amputation or death.
The number of Vibrio vulnificus infections was particularly high in Lee County following the devastating passage of Hurricane Ian. The health department has recorded 65 cases and 11 deaths since the start of the year, compared to 34 cases and 10 deaths in 2021. In order to limit the number of victims, “anyone with cuts and open wounds should avoid the contact with flood waters,” the Florida Department of Health spokesperson said.
“We won’t let you down”
The epidemic seems to be over in Florida, according to the spokesperson for the Department of Health: “We are seeing that the cases have been decreasing since the end of the storm, which is a very good thing”.
The hurricane was one of Florida’s worst disasters ever. Authorities said it would take months and $50 billion or more to rebuild all that was ravaged. The number of deaths could be revised upwards. During a trip on October 5, US President Joe Biden told those affected, “You have my promise, and America’s promise, that we will not let you down. We’ll walk you through this process and it’s going to take a long time. »