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Post-Hurricane Floodwaters Pose Flesh-Eating Bacteria Threat: Hurricane Idalia Triggers Warnings | US News

Hurricane Idalia may have passed, but a hidden threat lingers in its aftermath.

Florida health officials are warning Labor Day weekend beachgoers in affected areas to be cautious of floodwaters, which may carry Vibrio vulnificus, a rare and potentially lethal flesh-eating bacterium.

Florida’s Health Department emphasises the importance of treating this threat seriously, comparing it to respecting alligators and rattlesnakes.

The risk of Vibrio infections surged in coastal regions of Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas due to Idalia’s storm surges mixing salty seawater with heavy rainfall, creating ideal conditions for the bacteria to thrive.

V vulnificus, among various Vibrio types, is the most dangerous and infects about 80,000 individuals in the US annually, resulting in approximately 100 deaths, with numbers rising after hurricanes.

The rare and potentially deadly type of flesh-eating bacterium “shouldn’t be taken lightly,” Florida Health Department press secretary Jae Williams told Sky News affiliate NBC News. “It needs to be treated with proper respect – the same way we respect alligators and rattlesnakes.”

Infections typically occur through skin cuts while wading through contaminated water, causing rapid tissue destruction.

Immediate medical attention and antibiotics are crucial, as Vibrio is among the fastest-growing bacteria. In severe cases, amputation may be necessary, and fatalities can occur within a day of exposure.

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