Flesh-Eating Bacteria Scare In Colonial Beach

Flesh-Eating Bacteria Scare In Colonial Beach

By Linda Farneth Colonial Beach News

On July 27, 2019 WTVR posted an interview with James Mitchell who claims he recently contracted a form of flesh-eating bacteria which was diagnosed by a Pennsylvania doctor shortly after a visit to Colonial Beach.

In his interview Mitchell states he experienced a fall while in the waters of Colonial Beach which resulted in a small cut. Mitchell goes on to explain that he cleaned and bandaged the cut and that the next day he began developing symptoms of infection.

Here is the full interview: https://wtvr.com/2019/07/27/man-with-simple-cut-says-he-contracted-flesh-eating-bacteria/

The Facts:

The reporter does not state the date of the interview with Mitchell, nor does he show any fact checking with doctors who treated Mitchell. The reporter also does not say if he checked in with the Potomac River Fisheries Commission which is located just a few blocks from where the interview was conducted. Mitchell visited Colonial Beach on July 13.

We have contacted the Potomac River Fisheries Commission and are awaiting a response. The PRFC is closed on weekends so we do not anticipate a response until Monday.

In response to the article being circulated on social media the town issued the following response on July 27.

Town Statement:

Recently a report surfaced of a man contracting vibrio vulnificus, possibly in Colonial Beach. Similar cases have been reported up and down the eastern seaboard–in Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, Florida, other locations here in Virginia, and several other states across the country. The Town of Colonial Beach welcomes thousands of people to its beaches, in addition to the triathlon in which more than 300 swimmers participate. There have been no additional reports of infection. While there is no confirmation that the gentleman was infected here in Colonial Beach, we share the following as a general precaution.

According to the CDC, vibrio vulnificus is a bacterium that is rarely a cause of illness in the United States. The bacteria is a natural inhabitant of coastal waters. Chances of contracting an infection from a deadly water-borne bacteria are low–20,000 cases out of millions of swimmers are reported in the U.S. annually. While the average person is at low risk, anyone with an open wound should be careful. At highest risk are those with compromised immune systems or an underlying illness, such as liver disease. These people should avoid the water if they have any scrapes, cuts or open wounds. Wear sandals in the water to prevent cuts. Shower upon exiting the water. Infection is very rare among children.

The health and safety of our residents and visitors are of utmost importance. Any new developments will be reported here. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

According to an article by the CDC:

Vibrio bacteria naturally live in certain coastal waters and are present in higher concentrations between May and October when water temperatures are warmer.

About a dozen Vibrio species can cause human illness, known as vibriosis. The most common species causing human illness in the United States are Vibrio parahaemolyticus, Vibrio vulnificus, and Vibrio alginolyticus.

Most people become infected by eating raw or undercooked shellfish, particularly oysters. Certain Vibrio species can also cause a skin infection when an open wound is exposed to salt water or brackish water. Brackish water is a mixture of fresh and salt water. It is often found where rivers meet the sea.

People with compromised immune systems, especially those with chronic liver disease, are more likely to get vibriosis. Eating raw seafood, particularly oysters, and exposing open wounds to salt water or brackish water can increase a person’s chance for getting vibriosis.

CDC estimates that vibriosis causes 80,000 illnesses each year in the United States. About 52,000 of these illnesses are estimated to be the result of eating contaminated food.

The most commonly reported species, Vibrio parahaemolyticus, is estimated to cause 45,000 illnesses each year in the United States.

Most people with a mild case of vibriosis recover after about 3 days with no lasting effects. However, people with a Vibrio vulnificus infection can get seriously ill and need intensive care or limb amputation. About 1 in 5 people with this type of infection die, sometimes within a day or two of becoming ill.

Get detailed information about Vibrio bacteria here: https://www.cdc.gov/vibrio/index.html

It should be noted that the incident occurred 14 days ago on July 13. No other reports of flesh-eating bacteria have come in since then concerning the waters surrounding Colonial Beach.

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