Health scare of the week
Flesh-eating bacteria spreading
Climate change is helping spread unpleasant diseases to unexpected places, new research suggests. Over the past two years, five people in New Jersey have been hospitalized after contracting Vibrio vulnificus, a dangerous flesh-eating bacteria. One of the patients died; all five had either eaten or handled crabs or other seafood from the nearby Delaware Bay. Spread through contaminated shellfish, the bacteria is relatively common off the coasts of Virginia and Maryland and in the Gulf of Mexico. But until recently it had rarely been seen farther north; before 2017, New Jersey had only one serious Vibrio vulnificus case in eight years. New research suggests that warmer sea temperatures are now allowing the bacteria to thrive in northern waters that were previously too cold for them, reports CNN.com. “It is important for physicians—who may have never seen this infection before in their medical practice—to have some awareness,” says co-author Katherine Doktor, from Cooper University in New Jersey. People in at-risk areas are advised to avoid swimming in bay or seawater if they have open wounds, and to thoroughly cook any shellfish before eating it.