With all of the flood waters pouring into the bays and the Gulf of Mexico, this is a good time to make my annual alert to the dangers of a deadly flesh eating bacteria that is present in our waters, Vibro Vulnificus.
From May through October, the highest chances exist for encountering this feared infection.
Bacteria as a whole will be present in our waters as the flood waters make their way to the Gulf. Vibro Vulnificus, one of the more lethal groups of bacteria, can be found almost anywhere; however, there are places where a greater chance exists for encounters.
Areas of water that are isolated away from the ebb and flow of tides are prime spots. Many boat ramps fit into this category.
The bacteria is naturally present in salt and brackish waters. Infections typically affect those with pre-existing health conditions, who had open cuts or sores when they came into contact with the bacteria.
People with diabetes, liver disease, cancer or other immune suppressing conditions and who swim with open cuts or sores are at an increased risk. Healthy people are less likely to get an infection.
The good news is that an infection can be treated if caught early. The best way to prevent this from occurring is to immediately treat a scrape or cut that occurred in the water with an antiseptic. If nothing else, washing with soap or just flushing with drinking water will help.
I have personally known three people who encountered the infection. One died from it and the other two survived with one telling me that at times the pain was so bad that he wished he could have died.
One of the infections originated at a boat ramp, one in the surf at Galveston and the other while wade fishing in Matagorda Bay. Each year there are reported cases around the Galveston Bay Complex.