Deadly Bacteria Vibrio Vulnificus in High Numbers in Tarballs

Deadly Bacteria Vibrio Vulnificus in High Numbers in Tarballs

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Wayne Anderson of Irvington was a life-long fisherman.

And it was something in the water where he spent his life, that took his life, earlier this fall.

“I hope and pray to God I never have to see something like that again in my life,” said David Cox, Anderson’s  step-son. He says it started as a small bump on Anderson’s leg.

“It spread very quickly. The pain was unbearable. You could just see the redness getting darker, the blisters getting bigger.”

Anderson was dead in less than 48 hours.

“He wasn’t one to complain about pain and to see him there begging for someone to do something, it was very helpless,” said Cox. “Honestly, it was the hardest thing I’ve done in my life.”

Wayne Anderson was killed by vibrio vulnificus.

“Vibrio Vulnificus is a bacteria that is common in marine environments,’ explained Dr. John Vande Waa who  specializes in infectious diseases at the USA Medical Center

Vande Waa says a person can get vibrio two ways, by eating infected seafood, usually raw oysters, or by being in infected waters, either salt water or brackish. In this form…. vibrio is a fast-acting flesh-eating bacteria.

“The destruction in arms and legs, the flesh eating component, it’s two parts ,” said Vande Waa.  “One is that the organism  itself can destroy the tissues. The other is sepsis . The bacteria is in their bloodstream, it affects all the organs. Within my own experience of the cases the mortality has been approaching 40-50 percent.”

There have been almost two dozen cases of vibrio vulnificus in Alabama over the last five years.

There have been more than 30 cases in Florida this year alone including the death of an Escambia County man.

Vande Waa says as rare as vibrio vulnificus is, it’s something that should be taken very seriously.

And that’s why the research being done by this at Auburn University, and at the school’s lab at Dauphin Island is so disturbing.

“What was clear to us was that the tar balls contain a lot of vibrio vulnificus,” said Dr, Cova Arias who led a study of tar balls on Alabama and Mississippi beaches after the 2010 BP Oil Spill.

We’ll look closely at the Dr. Arias’ research, and her troublesome findings Tuesday  night on News-5.

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