Even though modern science and technology means things that used to be a death sentence are now quickly and easily treated, there is still some medical issues that we really need to watch out for.  The recent pandemic has taught us all that lesson.

Over the last few weeks, as New England has really started to see summer temperatures, we have been hearing stories about people getting sick after visiting their local beaches.

In particular, several people in Connecticut were made ill by a serious bacteria and one person ended up dying of the infection.  While one of the cases was because the person ate contaminated seafood, the others were because they went swimming in contaminated areas.

The particular bacteria in question is vibrio vulnificus.

According to the Maine CDC website, the bacteria is from the same family that causes cholera.  It is known to cause stomach illnesses (vomiting, diarrhea, etc) and skin infections in people.

In some cases, it has even been known to lead to necrotizing fasciitis.  Yes, flesh eating bacteria.  Fortunately, the chances of it eating your flesh are very, very rare.

CDC / Unsplash
CDC / Unsplash

The bacteria is often found in brackish water.  That is, water that is a combination of sea water and fresh water.  It is the kind of water you'd find at a place where a river empties into the ocean.

This video does a good job explaining about the nasty stuff.

It is not very common in Maine, but we have had cases in the last few years.  In 2021, there were 11 confirmed cases of the bacteria in the State of Maine.

The good news is that it is fairly easy to protect yourself from being infected.  Make sure you do not have any scrapes or cuts on your skin before you go swimming.  If you do, cover them appropriately.  And, after you are done swimming, wash off.  Take a shower and use antibacterial cream on any open cuts.

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