A man from Lake County, Florida died on Tuesday, June 18 after contracting rare flesh-eating bacteria while swimming in the Gulf of Mexico near Tampa.
His death is the fourth mortality case due to the deadly bacteria called Vibrio vulnificus, happening after the issuance of a public warning by the Florida Department of Health.
Cason Yeager, 26, went swimming, particularly two miles south of Pine Island Beach two days before the fatal incident, Cason's mother, Karen told local station WTSP. She said that the entire event was a nightmare for her and believes that no one should undergo such ordeal.
Vibrio vulnificus is a bacterium that occurs naturally in the environment but tends to be more active during the summer months, says Anne Gayle Ellis, spokesperson from the Florida Department of Health in Hernando County.
The bacterium is often mistakenly called "flesh-eating" due to its effect on the skin. Individuals who ingest it through undercooked shellfish may experience diarrhea, nausea and abdominal pain.
People with open wounds may also contract the bacteria. It may subsequently cause skin ulcerations and breakdown. The bacteria may enter the bloodstream and may become fatal in 50 percent of healthy patients and in 80 percent of immunocompromised patients.
Cason was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease about a decade ago, but recuperated well and was generally healthy ever since. At present, his mother wants to raise public awareness regarding the deadly bacteria. She is not urging everyone to stay out of the water, but she just wants to encourage the people to perform their due responsibilities and exercise diligence so as not to harm themselves, she explained.
"The way to protect yourself from skin infections from vibrio is by performing good wound care and you do that by covering the wounds with dry clean bandages until they're healed," advised Dr. Carina Blackmore, the deputy state epidemiologist in Florida.
Public advisories also urge people to prevent eating raw shellfish or to cook them thoroughly before serving.
The bacteria thrive in warm waters, specifically in estuaries around the Gulf of Mexico and in the Atlantic. The presence of Vibrio vulnificus usually indicates fecal pollution brought about by stormwater and human and animal sewage.
A total of 10 cases of Vibrio vulnificus infections have so far been reported this year; four of whom have died. In 2014, the total number of infections was placed at 32 and the number of mortalities at seven.
Photo: Adam Skowronski | Flickr