Vibrio is the so-called “flesh-eating bacteria” that has been making headlines on the gulf coast lately. MBP’s Evelina Burnett reports on a recent effort in south Mississippi to share accurate information about the rare illness.
"Thank you for calling the Coast Chamber."
The Mississippi Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce and coast tourism agencies report they’ve been receiving calls lately from potential visitors worried about vibrio following recent news reports. Kimberly Nastasi, head of the coast chamber, says that's why they organized a recent program on the topic.
"We wanted to have experts be available to answer concerns and address the conversations that were going on in the community. So we decided to put this forum together so we could speak to the experts and hear the reality of what's going on," she says.
Mississippi deputy state epidemiologist Paul Byers is one of the experts at the chamber’s program Friday. He says vibrio can be caught by eating contaminated raw seafood, particularly oysters, or through exposure to sea water through a wound. But it's rare - last year, there were 11 cases in Mississippi. This year so far, four.
"The concern can be that it can be a very serious infection for those people who are susceptible to it and have that exposure," he says.
For people at risk, the most severe outcomes can include bloodstream infections that can lead to loss of limbs or even death. So who's at risk?
"The people who are risk are those individuals who have a compromised immune system, for whatever reason," Dr. Byers says. "Primarily those folks who are diabetic, or liver disease, or are immune-compromised from cancer treatment or other conditions."
Byers recommends people who may have an immune-compromising condition talk to their doctors about the risks.