Florida communities devastated by Hurricane Ian are facing a new threat of flesh-eating bacteria — weeks after the massive storm swept across the state.
According to data from the Florida Department of Health, as of last Friday, 65 cases of Vibrio vulnificus had been reported in the Sunshine State this year. Before the storm that hit on September 28, only 37 cases had been reported.
Most new cases of Vibrio vulnificus, which eats away at flesh in open wounds, happen in Lee County, where Fort Myers and Sanibel Island are. These places were hit hard by Hurricane Irene.
“As a result of exposure to floodwaters and standing water after Hurricane Ian, DOH-Lee is seeing an unusual rise in Vibrio vulnificus infections,” Lee County Department of Health spokeswoman Tammy Soliz told CNN.
“Since September 29, 2022, DOH-Lee has heard of 26 cases of Vibrio vulnificus linked to Hurricane Ian. All 26 people with wound infections were exposed to Hurricane Ian flood water, either when the storm surge came into their homes or when they were cleaning up after the storm. Six people who live in Lee County have died.”
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The Florida Department of Health says that Vibrio vulnificus has killed at least 11 people in the Sunshine State this year. Last year, only 10 people died and 34 people got sick from the bacteria.
This year, 65 cases of Vibrio vulnificus were found in Florida. Before the storm, only 37 cases had been found. Getty Photos In the wake of Hurricane Ian on Oct. 3, health officials in Florida warned people about the dangers of the bacteria. The disease lives in warm, salty seawater and grows quickly when sewage gets into coastal water.
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Jessa Martin is the author of Nogmagazine, A professional in writing by day, and novelist by night, she received her bachelor of arts in film from Howard University and her master of arts in media studies from the New School. A Brooklyn native, she is a lover of naps, cookie dough, and beaches, currently residing in the borough she loves, most likely multitasking.