A recent death in Suffolk County has been linked to vibriosis, a rare, potentially fatal, “flesh-eating” bacterial infection.
Vibriosis is caused by several species of bacteria, including the Vibrio vulnificus bacteria, which occurs naturally in saltwater coastal environments — it occurs more often from May to October when the water is warmer.
It can cause skin breakdown and ulcers.
Fatal cases of vibriosis have also been found in Connecticut.
As a result, Governor Hochul and other officials have advised health care providers to be more vigilant about identifying potential cases of vibriosis.
“While rare, the vibrio bacteria has unfortunately made it to this region and can be extraordinarily dangerous,” Governor Hochul said. “As we investigate further, it is critical that all New Yorkers stay vigilant and take responsible precautions to keep themselves and their loved ones safe, including protecting open wounds from seawater and for those with compromised immune systems, avoiding raw or undercooked shellfish which may carry the bacteria.”
Infection with vibriosis can cause a range of symptoms when ingested, including diarrhea, stomach cramps, vomiting, fever and chills.
Exposure can also result in ear infections and cause sepsis and life-threatening wound infections.
Officials are still investigating whether or not the Suffolk County individual’s exposure to vibriosis bacteria occurred in New York waters or elsewhere.
“While we continue to investigate the source of this rare infection, it is important for residents to remain aware and vigilant on precautions that can be taken,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said. “As always, if any residents have health concerns we encourage them to contact their health care provider.”
Governor Hochul’s office added in a news release that while anyone can get vibriosis, those with liver disease, cancer or a weakened immune system or people taking medicine to decrease stomach acid levels may be more likely to get an infection or develop complications when infected.
Additionally, those with weakened immune systems should avoid eating raw or undercooked shellfish such as oysters, the office said.
For more information about vibriosis infections, click here.