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Gomez: No current threat of flesh-eating bacteria

  • Dr. Perry Gomez.

Guardian Staff Reporter

Published: Oct 12, 2013

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The Ministry of Health is not concerned about an outbreak of potentially deadly, flesh-eating bacteria in Florida making its way to The Bahamas, Minister of Health Dr. Perry Gomez said yesterday.

Gomez dismissed a story in the The Tribune newspaper, which said that a patient at a local hospital is being treated for Vibrio Vulnificus, as nothing more than rumor.

He insisted that as far as he is aware The Bahamas has no cases of this particular bacterial infection, which can destroy cell tissue and shut down organs.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, vibrio vulnificus, is a bacterium in the same family as those that cause cholera.

It normally lives in warm seawater. The bacteria can cause disease in those who eat contaminated seafood or have an open wound that is exposed to seawater.

People who are immunocompromised, especially those with chronic liver disease, are more at risk of infection when they eat raw seafood.

Gomez speculated that the organism in Florida may be another bacteria altogether.

“The organism that was said to be in Florida was said to be a vibrio, and to my knowledge the vibrio organisms are not flesh-eating organisms so they must be something else,” he said.

“The vibrio organisms tend to cause diarrhea diseases.”

At last report, 29 people in Florida were infected. Nine of those people have died.

Asked whether the Ministry of Health has taken any precautionary measures, Gomez said there is no need to.

But Gomez said if someone in The Bahamas becomes infected with the flesh-eating bacteria, he is confident that health officials are capable of controlling it and any potential spread.

He said the ministry has dealt with similar infections in the past.

“Our people, you get problems with lacerations of the leg, and you might be so susceptible and have an unusual organism around but the risk is very, very small,” he said.

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