Around this time of the year, many in Acadiana are heading to the beach to beat the heat but, when you mix a hot summer and seawater it could make for a dangerous combination such as flesh eating bacteria.
Cypremort Pointe is a favorite mini vacation spot in the community.
One beach goer, Erica Borne, says she noticed health officials checking the waters when she arrived. “They were right down there and when we pulled in the guy down there where you pay said they were sampling the water now, so they sample it once a week. So I think we’re good.”
As of now, there is no advisory in place at Cypremort Point, but that does not mean bacteria is not in the water.
“Of concern in every body of water really along the coast is a bacteria called Vibrio Vulnificus. It’s a natural inhabitant of seawater. We do not test for it,” says Dr. Tina Stefanski, Regional Medical Director for Office of Public Health in Acadiana.
Dr. Stefanski confirmed one case in Acadiana so far this year. The flesh eating bacteria is not new to Louisiana.
Jim Montgomery says one of his friends is now missing fingers after coming in contact with Vibrio Vulnificus years ago. “I have a friend many, many years ago who got pricked by a shrimp and he ended up losing four of his fingers. He had to be in a hyperbaric chamber for several weeks.”
Vibrio Vulnificus can also be contracted by eating contaminated raw shellfish. It is especially harmful to people with chronic liver disease or a weakened immune system.
Dr. Stefanski says this warning is not to scare anyone from enjoying outdoor activities. She just urges everyone to be cautious. “It’s really important that people with those illnesses that we mentioned or who are pregnant, if they have open cuts they should not swim in salt or brackish water. So, that goes for kayakers, fisherman need to be careful because there’s a lot of splashing associated with fishing and if you have open wounds don’t get in that water.”
She says health officials will continue to check the beaches every week to make sure the waters are safe.
Stefanski says if you experience symptoms such as fever, blistering skin, or decreased blood pressure after getting out of the water, you should seek medical attention immediately.