Local researchers educate about flesh-eating bacteria

Published: Aug. 14, 2019 at 8:54 PM EDT
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It's being referred to by many as the "flesh-eating bacteria" and with more than a dozen cases reported across the country, experts are now educating the public, as awareness heightens around the potential risks.

Research analysts at the UNC Institute of Marine Sciences prepare water samples to test for the presence of a bacteria known as Vibrio, often referred to as the "flesh-eating bacteria."

While infections caused by Vibrio can be dangerous, and sometimes even fatal, scientists say that only a fraction of species can actually cause disease.

Beaches across the country have closed this year as a result of reports of infections, but Dr. Rachel Noble assures water lovers not to avoid outdoor activities, and instead to use caution after being exposed. "If you have an open wound, try to make sure that wound is covered before you go in the water and upon returning, make you sure wash that wound immediately, and again after you come back out of the water. That's one of the most important, and that really goes for a lot of the risks that people face in the water."

Dr. Noble says that while the chance of infection remains small, those with diabetes, or other immune-compromised deficiencies are at an increased risk if exposed and should use additional caution.