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Minister confirms case of flesh eating bacteria

Victim was hunting prior to infection
Guardian Staff Reporter

Published: Oct 28, 2013

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A Bahamian man has been infected with the flesh eating bacterium Vibrio vulnificus, Health Minister Dr. Perry Gomez confirmed.

Gomez said the victim was recently pigeon hunting in Andros, but would not say if that is where he was infected.

The North Andros and Berry Islands MP warned residents though to be careful when going into areas with brackish water with open wounds.

He noted that there had only been one confirmed case of the infection.

“That patient is alive and still in hospital,” Gomez said.

“We are fortunate that there haven’t been any other cases.”

He continued, “They were, as I am told, out on a shooting hunt, a pigeon hunt, and in that you walk through brackish water.

“The question would be why now. The bugs live in the water and people are in the water year round.

“There are some things we don’t know. So we are fortunate that it has only been one person.”

An Andros resident, who did not wish to be named, said she has known the victim and his wife for several years.

She did not want to identify him, but said he is in his 60s, and spent his time between Andros and New Providence.

She said he went out earlier in the day hunting, and later complained in the night that his leg was bothering him.

He was transported to New Providence after he noticed his leg started to swell, she said. She claimed the leg was later amputated.

“Everyone here is back to their normal routines now,” she said.

“When it first happened, a lot of people were afraid of going in the water.”

Gomez said the government is testing the marshy water where the victim was hunting.

“It would be interesting to see the kind of levels of organisms in certain areas of the brackish waters so that we will know in the future and to compare in the future whether the levels fluctuate or they remain constant,” Gomez said.

“But... we just want people to be careful in going in brackish water and try not to get cuts and bruises.

“If you have those, don’t go in the water.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) website, the rare bacterium Vibrio vulnificus can cause acute illness, low blood pressure, shock, swelling and redness of skin and fever. It added that the bacterium is a serious health threat “predominately to persons with an underlying illness”.

It cannot spread directly from one person to another, according to the CDC.

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