Special Edition: FOCUS – Protecting Your Legs at the Beach After Hurricane Ian

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Special Edition: FOCUS - Protecting your Legs at the Beach after Hurricane Ian

Headed to the Beach? READ THIS FIRST

Special Edition: FOCUS - Protecting your Legs at the Beach after Hurricane IanWe realize everyone is itching to go back to the beaches. But we advise you to please use caution. Though Tampa Bay thankfully was not the location of landfall as predicted, the effects on the gulf are far-reaching even 100 miles north of most of the destruction from impact.

Recovery efforts in Southwest Florida are underway, and the focus is on residential and business clean-up and rebuilding. What many do not take into account is the environmental impact. It’s very easy to see the bright sunny days and think heading to the beach would be a wonderful weekend activity, as it usually is in Florida.

Officials now say that the flooding and storm surges that occurred during the past couple of weeks have caused a spike in infections caused by the Vibrio vulnificus bacterium. This usually affects people who eat raw or undercooked seafood, but the same bacteria can also enter the body through wounds, cuts, or even minor scrapes. These wounds can lead to life-threatening infections.

The bacteria are commonly referred to as flesh-eating bacteria because their primary infective symptom is a type of tissue breakdown known as necrotizing fasciitis. In severe cases, this condition can require the amputation of a limb to prevent further spread and can result in death.

Health officials have started seeing an increase in the number of infections caused by bacteria. As of Oct. 14, there were already 29 cases and four deaths in Lee County. All but two of the cases were reported after the hurricane.

The fact is that Sewage spills caused by the hurricane and flooding likely increased bacteria levels at the site and for miles around.


Check water quality before heading to any beach along the Gulf of Mexico.  Florida Healthy Beaches Program | Florida Department of Health

It is advisable at this time to avoid eating any seafood caught in the Gulf.

Those with weakened immune systems, such as those who are taking immunosuppressant medications, are more prone to developing serious infections. Please take extra precautions.

If you are working in an area with flood water cover any open areas with a waterproof bandage first. Liquid bandied under a regular band-aid is advisable. If you are injured in flood water, it is suggested to immediately clean their wounds or cuts with soap and clean water.

According to infectious disease specialists, while the water has already receded, the same bacteria can still be found in the debris and the ground. People who are moving debris should cover themselves with long sleeves and gloves. They should also wash their wounds immediately after a puncture or scratch.

A Vibrio vulnificus infection destroys tissue. This is why which is why it’s considered a flesh-eating bacteria because of the necrosis. Symptoms of infection to watch for include chills, fever, swelling, blistering, skin lesions, severe pain, and low blood pressure.

If you suspect you may be infected, seek medical help immediately. Do not wait. This is a fast advancing infection that can lead to amputation or death in a matter of just days.

Other related articles:
Flesh-Eating Bacteria On The Rise In Southwest Florida (espnswfl.com)
People warned against going to the beach due to bacteria, debris, sewage (winknews.com)

Health Advisory (bacteriological): Ben T Davis Beach | Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough (floridahealth.gov)



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