Strong winds and heavy rain continue to wreak havoc across parts of the South today as Hurricane Michael meanders out of Georgia and heads up the mid-Atlantic Coast.
In addition to the devastating damage that is immediately visible today, less obvious hazards in the wake of the massive storm are expected to last weeks. Food safety dangers come in various forms and can cause severe illnesses and deaths as floodwaters recede.
Among the most vulnerable foods are fresh fruits and vegetables. They are breeding grounds for pathogens when power outages cause the loss of refrigeration and temperature control. Fresh produce that comes into contact with floodwater can be instantly contaminated with a wide range of bacteria, viruses and parasites.
The toxic composition of floodwater is such a serious food safety hazard that federal law prohibits the sale, distribution or donation of any produce or other food crops from fields that are flooded. Special inspections are required before such crops can even be used for animal feed.
Hurricane Michael leaves behind a treacherous, dangerous landscape that will likely pose risks to human health for weeks to come, experts say.
The water itself can carry bacteria and viruses that pose a major health hazard.
Among the medical dangers are cholera, Hepatitis A and vibriosis, said Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency room physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. Glatter said storm victims need to stay focused on staying healthy while they await recovery efforts. That may mean not rushing outside as soon as the skies clear.
“Don’t panic— try to take things one step at a time when you feel overwhelmed,” he said.
71-year-old man presented to the emergency department with a 2-day history of fever and excruciating pain in his left hand that had developed 12 hours after eating raw seafood. He had a history of type 2 diabetes mellitus and hypertension and was undergoing hemodialysis for end-stage renal disease. At the time of presentation, hemorrhagic bullae measuring 3.5 by 4.5 cm had developed on the palm of his left hand (Panel A), and erythematous swelling with confluent tense bullae and ecchymoses had developed on the dorsum of the hand and forearm (Panel B). Surgical intervention was performed urgently, and Vibrio vulnificus was isolated from the bullae. Postoperatively, the patient received intravenous ceftazidime and ciprofloxacin. V. vulnificus can cause skin infections after wound exposure to contaminated seawater, as well as primary septicemia through the consumption of contaminated raw or undercooked seafood. Patients with immunocompromising conditions, including chronic liver disease and cancer, are at increased risk for infection and complications. Despite treatment, the skin lesions progressed to deep necrotic ulcers, and amputation of the left forearm was performed 25 days after presentation. The patient did well after the surgery and was discharged home.
MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — The third case of Vibrio in 2018 has been reported to the Mobile County Health Department (MCHD). The case is currently under investigation by MCHD’s Infectious Diseases & Outbreak division.
MCHD says the exposure took place while cleaning crabs in the coastal waters of Mobile Bay. The species has been identified as Vibrio vulnificus. Necrotizing fasciitis — an infection that results in the death of the body’s soft tissue — was present in this case.
Vibrio bacteria naturally live in certain coastal waters and are present in higher concentrations between May and October when water temperatures are warmer. However, the bacteria can be present throughout the year in some areas. While Vibrio bacteria can enter the body through a break in the skin, it can also come from consuming contaminated seafood.
Of the more than 70 species of Vibrio that exist, about a dozen can cause human illness — known as Vibriosis. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that each year in the United States 80,000 individuals become sick with Vibriosis, and 100 people die from their infection. About 52,000 of these illnesses are estimated to be the result of eating contaminated food.
The Mobile County Health Department (MCHD) reported Monday on the second case of Vibrio in 2018. The species has been identified as Vibrio vulnificus.
The exposure took place while swimming in either Mobile Bay or Gulf of Mexico waters. Necrotizing fasciitis — an infection that results in the death of the body’s soft tissue — was not present in this case. The case is currently under investigation by MCHD’s Infectious Diseases & Outbreak division.
Norwegian health authorities are warning people who are particularly vulnerable to Vibrio infections to take precautions while swimming as a number of serious bacterial infections ave been recorded.
This summer, six people have been severely ill with wound infection due to bacteria in seawater (five Vibrio and one Shewanella). The infection has occurred after swimming in the Oslo Fjord.
All adults over the age of 50 who have had a sore wound or have suffered sores during bathing in the Oslo Fjord in five different municipalities, Bærum, Oslo, Moss, Vestby and Fredrikstad.
In addition to the serious cases we know from earlier, there have been reports of 20 people who have had mild Vibrio infections on August 8th. These are sore infections and ear infections that often do not require treatment.
The purpose of this survey was to investigate the distribution of major pathogenic Vibrio spp. (Vibrio parahaemolyticus, Vibrio alginolyticus, Vibrio vulnificus and Vibiro cholerae) in Chinese freshwater fish farms. In total, 4,064 samples of freshwater fish, water and sediment were collected from 12 provinces covering every quarter in 2016. The occurrence of Vibrios was as follows: V. cholerae (10.33%), V. parahaemolyticus (3.89%), V. alginolyticus (1.24%) and V. vulnificus (0.76%). Among 158 confirmed V. parahaemolyticus isolates, 44 isolates (27.85%) had virulence genes (trh/tdh). Among 420 confirmed V. cholerae isolates, 4 were the O1 stains and 4 were the O139 strains. Out of 112 freshwater farms, 58.93% had Vibrios-positive samples. The rates of Vibrios-positive samples from May to October (12.45%∼35.20%) were higher than those in other months (0.00%∼8.07%). Compared the environment factors of Vibrios positive and negative water samples, there was a significantly difference in temperature (P＜0.01), while no significant difference in salinity and pH value (P＞0.05). In summary, the study presents comprehensive contamination data on the occurrence of four major pathogenic Vibrios in freshwater aquaculture of China for the first time, and the results indicate that Vibrios are widely distributed in aquaculture environment and a further risk assessment is needed to conduct.
Texas health officials are warning the public about the increased risk of Vibrio infections naturally found in coastal water.
Most infections occur between May and October, when the warmer water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico promote the growth of these bacteria.
People can become ill after eating raw or undercooked contaminated seafood, particularly oysters, or when a person has an open wound that is exposed to seawater. Illness due to eating raw or undercooked seafood usually includes gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea, fever, and chills. These symptoms frequently occur within 24 hours of eating and last approximately three days. Wound infections can cause redness, swelling, large blisters on the skin, skin ulcers, and, in serious cases, may even lead to limb amputation or death. People with a weakened immune system, liver disease, diabetes, cancer, or other chronic diseases or who have decreased gastric acidity are at highest risk for severe illness.