A boy has contracted a Vibrio infection from a beach in Maryland -- farther north than previous cases of the flesh-eating bacteria.
Photo: kkolosov/Pixabay
Photo: kkolosov/Pixabay

Boy in Maryland contracts flesh-eating bacteria, which may be spreading north

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Brittany Carey said in a Facebook post that her son went swimming June 23 in the Sinepuxent Bay near Ocean City.

"He went swimming and was having a great time until about Monday evening when I started noticing little spots developing all over his body," Carey wrote. "Tuesday morning, there were open wounds developing but I had thought he was scratching them, making them worse."

Carey took her son to a hospital, where she said doctors told her the condition was "really nothing" and prescribed her son an antibiotic. When the antibiotic made the infection worse, Carey took her son to a different doctor. He was then diagnosed with Vibrio, also known as flesh-eating bacteria.

Vibrio is a bacteria that lives in certain coastal waters in warm temperatures, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It can cause a skin infection, as well as cramping, nausea, vomiting, fever and chills. Some cases of Vibrio infections can be deadly, particularly among people with weakened immune systems.

The bacteria can enter the body through an open wound, or through eating raw or undercooked shellfish.

Vibrio has traditionally been found in warmer areas, such as the Gulf Coast. But a report published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in June found Vibrio could be spreading to new places because of climate change.

Five cases of flesh-eating bacteria were connected to activity in the Delaware Bay in 2017 and 2018, Today.com reported. Previously, only one case had been reported from 2008 to 2016.

To prevent a Vibrio infection, the CDC recommends staying out of salt water if you have a wound, washing your wound thoroughly if you do swim, and not consuming raw or undercooked shellfish. 

Carey noted at the end of her post that her son is now healing.

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