Young Woman Develops Rare Form of Flesh-eating Vibrio, Confirming its Growth
During the week of August 17, 2019, the CDC’s National Notifiable Infectious Diseases and Conditions, United States: Weekly Tables report 22 cases of some form of Vibrio. With the increase of Vibrio lately, the story of one 25-year old woman who contracted a flesh-eating form of Vibrio in 2017 is trending.
Owens had been deep-sea fishing with her parents in the Gulf Coast of Florida when she woke up the next morning with a bump forming on her limp foot. She was rushed to the hospital. An autopsy revealed that what they believed before was a spider bite, was actually a flesh-eating bacteria, a rare form of Vibrio. This rapid form of Vibrio threatened to take her legs, or worse, her life. Thankfully, through surgeries and antibiotics Owens was able to avoid a full amputation. She was left, however, with a foot long, 3-inch wide hole in her left leg. Owens says that she grew up swimming in these very same Florida waters and never realized the dangers they harbored.
Vibrio cases have rapidly increased over the past 10 years according to the CDC. According to Geoff Scott, chair of the department of environmental health sciences in the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina, environmental factors such as global warming and increased coastal urbanization are major causes in the growth of water-born bacteria.
Vibriosis is a bacteria which can cause infection through ingestion or through the skin. Vibrio is most commonly transferred as a food-borne illness through raw sea-food, such as oysters, or as a flesh-eating bacteria when open wounds are exposed to seawater. There are several prominent types of Vibrio, A Streptococcus (known as strep), Klebsiella, Clostridium, Escherichia coli, and Staphylococcus aureus, as published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Doctors and officials encourage the population not to live in fear of Vibrio rather, to exercise caution by not swimming in the ocean with open wounds or consume under-cooked seafood. For further information, such as symptoms and treatment, visit The Center for Disease Control (CDC) website.