Doctors at LBJ Hospital have amputated the lower half of Brian Parrott’s right leg after it became infected with an as yet unidentified flesh eating bacteria. The 50 year old victim contracted the bacteria while swimming with his grandchildren at a beach in Galveston.
Doctors are still running tests, but they speculate the bacteria is likely Vibrio, a common hazard in coastal waters that can infect people through consumption or open sores and cuts.
“Today, he made the statement, ‘I don’t know how much more of this I can take,’” said Donna Dailey, Brian’s mother. “The problem I have is he didn’t know about it. If they had known about it, they surely wouldn’t have put the great-grandkids in there, or his grandkids.”
While the bacteria is common, infections are fairly rare. Less than a dozen beach goers were infected in 2015, according to Galveston’s Health Department, While most people contract the bacteria after eating raw oysters, it can also enter the body through scrapes, cuts, and any kind of open wound.
According to American Family Physician, Vibrio bacterial infection is the leading cause of seafood consumption related death in the USA. There are two ways to contract it. The first is a life-threatening food poisoning caused by consuming raw or undercooked seafood, particularly raw oysters. The second is a necrotizing wound infection acquired when an open wound is exposed to warm seawater with high concentrations of Vibrio bacteria. Most patients develop sepsis. Fatality rates are greater than 50% for primary septicemia and about 15% for wound infections.
Meanwhile, bacteria levels along Galveston beaches are testing dangerously high for bacteria. As of 6/22/2016 Texas City Dike and 9 other popular beaches along the Galveston Seawall between 9th Street and 53rd Street tested high for bacteria. It is recommended that anyone with an open cut or sore, or with a compromised immune system, avoid swimming in contaminated water.
How can I prevent Vibrio infections?
- To prevent skin infections, avoid exposing open wounds to warm seawater
- Avoid beaches known to have tested high for bacteria
- Don’t eat raw seafood, especially oysters
- Cook seafood thoroughly
- Keep raw seafood separate from produce and other foods when shopping and storing groceries.
- Wash your hands thoroughly after handling raw seafood
- Prevent cross-contamination in the kitchen by washing cutting boards, counters, knives, utensils, and other surfaces after handling raw foods
- Wash your hands with warm, soapy water for 20 seconds after using the bathroom, changing diapers, and efore eating