Five Long Island Sound swimmers throughout Connecticut have contracted Vibrio vulnificus, a life-threatening infection, in the last three months; between 2010 and 2019, only seven state residents have reported infections, the Connecticut Department of Health said in a new report.
The infection, which can also be contracted by eating undercooked seafood, afflicts those whose open wounds come into contact with salt water, or the juices of raw seafood, containing the bacteria.
Once inside the body, this bacteria can infect the bloodstream causing septicemia and can lead to limb amputation following tissue necrosis or even death in one-fifth of sufferers.
According to the DPH, one Connecticut resident became infected in July, and four more reported infections in August of this year. Of these individuals, all were between the ages of 45 and 85, and four were male; three are from New Haven County, one is from Fairfield County and another is from Middlesex County.
All five patients were hospitalized, and each reported swimming, crabbing or boating in the salt and brackish waters of the Long Island Sound.
“The identification of these five cases over two months is very concerning,” said Dr. Matthew Cartter, State Epidemiologist for DPH. “This suggests the Vibrio bacteria may be present in salt or brackish water in or near Long Island Sound, and people should take precautions.”
Those with open wounds, said the DPH, should avoid swimming in saltwater altogether until they are healed. Covering those wounds with waterproof bandages and thoroughly rinsing them after contact with saltwater or seafood is the second-best option.
Typically, Vibrio infections are combatted with a course of strong antibiotics. Symptoms of infection include watery diarrhea, fever, chills, dangerously low blood pressure and redness and pain of the afflicted wound.
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