Facts about flesh-eating bacteria

Flesh-eating bacteria has been all over the news lately. We've reported on three different people who've been hospitalized over the last few weeks after going into waters along the Texas coast and later getting infections from the disease.

One man had to have part of his leg amputated. Another man was treated and released. And most recently, a man underwent multiple surgeries in Pearland after fishing in Aransas Pass.
Quick facts about Vibrio from the Galveston County Health Department:

- Vibrio is naturally occurring and frequently present in most salt and brackish water.
- It's rare people get an infection from Vibrio bacteria. In fact, out of 6-million visitors to Galveston Island last year, fewer than ten cases of Vibrio infection were reported to the Galveston County Health District.

- Most people recover from Vibrio infection without long-term complications.
- When Vibrio infection is severe, it's common the affected person had serious preexisting health conditions, like HIV, hepatitis or diabetes and got into untreated water with open sores or wounds.
- Infections can occur when the bacteria enters the body through open cuts or sores. If you have open sores or wounds or a compromised immune system, you should ask your doctor about swimming in untreated water.
- If a wound becomes red or swollen after swimming in untreated water, see your doctor immediately to receive proper treatment.
- There are currently fewer Vibrio cases in our area than recent years.

Statistics show it's rare for a person to develop a serious infection from Vibrio bacteria. When such infections occur, it's common the affected person had preexisting immune-suppressing health conditions and open sores or wounds.

According to the Galveston County Health Department, more than 6 million people visited Galveston in 2015. There is no trend of an increase in Vibrio infection in Galveston County. In fact, there are currently fewer cases than years past.

Click or tap here to read up on what the Mayo Clinic has posted on the disease.
You can also read up on the Centers for Disease Control website on prevention, symptoms, treatment and transmission.

Texas Beach Watch Advisories:

- Texas Beach Watch tests for a common bacterial indicator called enterococcus. When the level of enterococcus is higher than the EPA recommendation for swimming, an advisory is issued for beach corresponding to that testing site.

- There are 52 testing sites along Galveston, Bolivar and the Texas City Dike. There are more than a hundred testing sites along the entire Texas Gulf coast and even more in the United States.
- Enterococcus can lead to infection in open cuts or sores. It can also cause stomach illness if ingested.
- Most healthy people will not be affected by the bacteria. Those with preexisting health conditions that weaken their immune system are more susceptible.
- If you have open cuts or sores, you should wrap them well in waterproof bandages or not swim in untreated water anywhere, anytime. If you're not sure if you should be in untreated water, ask your doctor.
- If a wound becomes red or swollen after swimming in untreated water, see your doctor immediately to receive proper treatment.
- Advisories are indicated by signs on the affected beach, on two websites (TexasBeachWatch.com and www.gchd.org), via an e-mail distribution list (sign up at TexasBeachWatch.com)and news release when there is an abnormally high number.
- Texas Beach Watch advisories are common along recreational coastal waters after periods of heavy rain and typically last a day or so.
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