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Old 11-02-2007, 10:44 PM
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Default Re: Fishermen Beware!!!

We have one here in Texas which claims a number of fishermen each year...have them double check for this as well... Godspeed to your recovery. And keep some Clorox Bleach wipes on board!!!!

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July 23, 2004
Victoria Advocate
A case of infection by flesh-eating bacteria in Houston was reported to health officials Wednesday, following reports of two Houston fishermen hospitalized with symptoms of the disease in Victoria last week, while another case is suspected in a Matagorda hospital and a Rockport man is recovering from an encounter with the bacteria earlier this month.

A case of a skin infection caused by the bacterium Vibrio vulnificus was reported to the Houston Department of Health and Human Services on Wednesday morning, said Kathy Barton, chief of public affairs.

A Houston man in his early 40s contracted the infection on one of his extremities while fishing in Galveston Bay, she said. The man first started showing symptoms July 12, but the hospital didn't report it until the middle of this week.

Barton said she didn't know the man's condition, but she believed he was still hospitalized. She declined to disclose which hospital reported the infection.

Jesse Arsola, of Bay City, was hospitalized with a severe bacterial infection of his leg after a fishing trip last weekend and is listed in good condition at Matagorda General Hospital, Daryle Voss, hospital administrator said. Test results have not confirmed the nature of the bacteria, but Arsola is being treated for necrotizing fasciitis, a severe form of cellulitis that destroys infected soft tissue very quickly that is commonly referred to as being caused by flesh-eating bacteria.

Exactly where Arsola was fishing when he was believed to have been infected has not been confirmed by either him or health officials.

Charles Newton of Rockport was rushed to the hospital July 8, two days after he most likely came in contact with the bacteria around Rockport Harbor.

While fishermen on the Texas Gulf coast have long known about dangerous bacteria in warm, bay waters, many feel the danger is slight. But David Christian of Houston said he is rethinking that perception after what happened to the two men, one of them his friend, who are now in intensive care at Citizens Medical Center in Victoria.

"Fishermen have known about the Vibrio (vulnificus) bacteria for a long time," said the 39-year-old Christian. "But everyone always thought it was like getting struck by lightning."

Christian wade-fished with one of the two men in Greens Bayou near Port O'Connor during the Poco Bueno tournament. The other man now hospitalized in Victoria had fished nearby. Both are between the ages of 45 and 50.

On Thursday, Christian's partner was considered in stable to good condition, while the other man remained in critical condition, said Melissa Purl, hospital spokesperson.

Christian said that the usual precautions didn't apply in his friend's case.

"They say that people with open wounds and poor immune systems should be worried about the bacteria," Christian said. "But (he) wasn't sick and he didn't have any open wounds."

Hospital officials have said that it was suspected the bacteria found entrance through an abrasion rubbed on the man's leg by his boot.

"I was told that they think it entered his body through an area that his wading boots rubbed his leg," said Christian. "I don't know a lot about it, but I think they need to do some research if something in the water can do this to fishermen."

Christian explained that a small bruise, about the size of a quarter, appeared on his friend's leg Saturday morning. He didn't think anything of it, but by 6 p.m., when they returned to the house they were staying in, he wasn't feeling well and the bruised area had grown to about three inches across.

"That's when we thought it might be something," Christian said. "He went to have it looked at and they drew a black line around it and we went to dinner. By 10 p.m., he started shaking and couldn't stand up and it had started to blister."

They went to the emergency room in Port Lavaca, and were eventually flown to Victoria, where surgeons began fighting to save the man's life.

"They are surgically removing the infected flesh, trying to save the leg," Christian said. "I heard the other gentleman has had part of his leg amputated and is on life support."

Citizens confirmed that the other man's infection was a result of the Vibrio vulnificus bacteria, but the tests that will confirm the bacterial cause of Christian's friend's illness have not returned from the lab.

The Texas Department of Health is reminding people to take precautions against Vibrio infections, which can occur when Gulf or bay water comes in contact with cuts or open wounds.

"Vibrio is not new to the world, and it's not new to Texas, but some precautions are in order," said Linda Gaul, TDH epidemiologist. "We can't downplay the seriousness of Vibrio infections, but we're really not seeing any unusual numbers."

Since late March, TDH has confirmed 20 cases of Vibrio illness in Texas residents, including three deaths. Gaul said the state averages around 36 cases a year. Health authorities have confirmed three cases of Vibrio infections this month. At least two of them were associated with exposure of cuts or open wounds to coastal saltwater.

Yearly, according to the Web site of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are an average of 50 culture-confirmed cases, 45 hospitalizations and 16 deaths from the Gulf Coast region, including Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas.

Nationwide, there are as many as 95 cases - half of which are unconfirmed- 85 hospitalizations and 35 deaths.

"The bacteria can be found anywhere in salt water," Doug McBride, Texas Department of Health spokesman, said. "It is prevalent in all coastal salt water and it becomes more prevalent when the temperatures rise."

Because the bacteria is ever present there is no testing for the bacteria, explained Dr. James Oliver, professor of biology at the University of North Carolina in Charlotte, and is an expert on Vibrio. "It's a natural occurrence," he said. "If you test for it, you're going to find it."

Several species of Vibrio bacteria live in coastal saltwater around the world. Vibrio vulnificus and Vibrio parahaemolyticus are two common species of the organism.

"There are several species of Vibrio bacteria," said Joe Fox, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Mariculture and Environmental Science, College of Science and Technology, Texas A&M University. "It can be found in nearly every species of fish, shrimp or any other creature that lives in warm salt water. It is probably a long shot for someone to be infected by simply walking or swimming along a beach. The bacteria are opportunistic. They are always looking for a place that will allow their population to explode. So they can be found in concentrations around oyster banks. They are always looking for animals under stress, or open wounds."

Gaul said simply coming in contact with Gulf water does not mean an infection will happen.

But wounds or cuts exposed to salty seawater should be cleaned immediately.

"If (a person has) a wound that may have gotten salt water in it, they should wash it out with soap and water, hydrogen peroxide or even bleach. If a cut or wound starts showing signs of infection, they should get medical treatment as soon as possible," said Doug McBride, Texas Department of Health spokesman.

Vibrio also can be contracted from eating raw or undercooked shellfish from infected waters. Health officials continually warn that those with diabetes, liver problems or other diseases that weaken the immune system should never consume raw or undercooked shellfish, including oysters, clams and mussels.

Vibrio infections can be successfully treated with antibiotics if treated early. But some infections can be deadly. Last year, of the 43 cases of Vibrio infections recorded in Texas, seven ended in deaths.

Symptoms of infection from seawater exposure can include breakdown of the skin and ulcerations. Ingestion of the organism can cause vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. If Vibrio infects the bloodstream - more likely to happen in those with diabetes, weakened immune systems or liver problems - serious complications marked by fever, chills, septic shock and blistering skin lesions can occur.

Gaul said there are no warnings or advisories discouraging visits to the Texas coast.

Greg Brown is a reporter for the Advocate. Contact him at 979-244-1330 or gkbrown@ The Advocate's Louise Popplewell and Thomas Doyle contributed to this report. Contact Popplewell at 361-552-28-03 or Contact Doyle at 361-580-6511 or