Covering Louisiana

Jul 4, 2013 9:28 AM by Steven Albritton

Flesh-eating bacteria found in Louisiana coastal waters

A flesh-eating bacteria in the Gulf of Mexico has killed one person and made four others ill. The victims contracted this deadly bacteria while swimming off the Louisiana coast.

It's called vibrio vulnificus, and state health officials are warning everyone to take proper precautions before entering the water. As the temperatures rise, so does the growth of the potentially deadly bacteria.

Some beachgoers have heard rumors of something going on with the water.

"Someone [on Facebook] said all (her) Louisiana friends (need to) be careful of the bacteria that's in the water," Sheila Lord, a vacationer at Cypremort Point, said.

Health officials say the people most vulnerable to this bacteria are the very young and old, those with cancer, and those with liver issues.

"If you have severe vomiting and diarrhea, and you become dehydrated that's when you need to seek medical attention," said Dr. Tina Stefanski of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals.

If you have a cut on your body, you could also be at risk. Health officials advise that if you have an open wound that you cover it before going into the water. They also advise that you shower after getting out of the water.

The bacteria can also find its way into shellfish. DHH officials remind seafood consumers to make sure they fully cook their shellfish dishes before eating them.

As of Wednesday night, DHH has not released the specific bodies of water in which the bacteria has been found.

However, there is a swim at your own risk advisory for the entire state. If you do swim, DHH officials say don't dunk your head or swallow the water.

"It thrives in warm water," Stefanski said. "So, you can imagine in the summer months we see an increased number of this type of bacteria in warm salt water."

Lord and her friends are now having second thoughts about whether or not to go in the water.

"I'm a little bit nervous about it to be honest," Lord said.

"You know you just don't want to get sick. I'm on vacation. It would be horrible if I had to go back home with something."



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