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FLESH EATING BACTERIA: Some things you didn’t know.

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FLESH EATING BACTERIA: Some things you didn’t know.

Santa Rosa Beach Florida: In the Northern hemisphere of our awesome planet, spring is just around the corner…and with Spring comes thoughts of frolicking in various bodies of water. Every summer’s dream begins with images of sandy beaches, pristine lakes, rustic rivers and other water based playgrounds. For some overly concerned folks, that also brings thoughts of flesh eating bacteria, zombies and even death.

In the last couple of years, there has been a lot of scuttle butt about the flesh eating bacteria known as Vibrio Vulnificus. Like most media hyped stories, panic ensues, people take extreme stances, and a lot of fear grows based on misinformation and rumors.

We’ve consulted with a few wound experts (who shall not be named) and learned a few things that you may not have seen or known about this flesh eating nightmare called Vibrio:

1) It’s always been in the waters in Florida...and southern lakes…and ponds…and other warm waters. Yep, It’s not a new thing. Visitors to the warm waters of Florida, and Southern lakes and ponds come into contact with it all the time. Most don’t even realize it, but if you’ve ever eaten a batch of “bad oysters”, more than likely, you’ve had Vibrio in your body. You survived…we hope…and you can again.

2) Most of the time, our bodies handle it and moves on: The human body is a wondrous thing.  We adapt to extreme conditions, unusual mental punishment and yes, even Vibrio. In most cases, we may experience a “gastric” event that includes diarrhea, stomach discomfort, and/or nausea. It’s the rare and extreme cases where someone might get the “flesh eating” stuff. And those individuals generally have compromised immune systems, were in the water with sores or didn’t properly care for a wound obtained while in the water.


Vibrio Vulnificus

3) The folks who died from Vibrio had some other immune deficiency or a sore that they failed to address properly: The ones who end up dying or losing limbs thanks to this little nightmare, are already medically compromised in some way. According to the division of Marine Fisheries, “people who have liver disease, diabetes mellitus, alcoholism, heart disease, cancer, and immune system disorders like AIDS are at an increased risk of infection. Individuals taking drugs thatsuppress their immune systems such as steroids may also have increased susceptibility. People become infected by getting injured or exposing open wounds to coastal waters, or by eating raw or improperly cooked shellfish such as oysters.” So, if you have those situations a happening in your person, stay out of the water. Existing wounds are particularly susceptible. SO, just lay on the beach and stay off the paddle board.

4) Vibrio is not caused by water pollution: According to the FDA, vibrio occurs naturally, and can be found in clean coastal waters, warm lakes, ponds, etc. The amount of the bacteria actually increases when the water becomes warmer during the spring and summer. Here’s a little more technical idea straight from the FDA’s webpage on the matter: “Oysters feed by filtering water-surrounding areas where vibrios may thrive and as a result concentrate V. vulnificus in their tissues. When a person eats shellfish raw or undercooked, the bacteria enter the digestive tract and multiply rapidly. In addition to ingestion, high-risk individuals can become infected when cuts, burns or sores come in contact with seawater containing V. vulnificus. “


So, is it something to fear? Not necessarily. As long as your immune system isn’t comprised and you don’t have open sores and stuff, you should be good. Just like anything in this life, don’t be stupid and you’ll survive.


Legal Note: We here at are not bacteria experts, nor do we offer medical advice. Please do the research yourself and be sure to come to your own conclusions. 


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