When Jane Durvin took her grandchildren swimming in the Rappahannock River on a hot summer day in Virginia last week, the last thing on her mind was the cat scratch on her finger, but that scratch could have cost her her life. Instead, the Essex County woman will lose a finger because the small wound became infected with flesh-eating bacteria from the warm, brackish river water.
“They are going to have to amputate,” Durvin told the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
“I’d rather lose my finger than lose my life, but it is something that everybody should know in this hot weather,” she said.
Durvin’s hand swelled up the day after she swam in the river. At an area hospital, doctors told her she had a vibrio infection, also known as flesh-eating bacteria.
Every year dozens of people contract vibrio infections from swimming with open wounds.
Virginia Department of Health officials have issued warnings against swimming in salt or brackish water with open wounds.
“It can be fatal, or somebody could lose a limb,” health department epidemiologist Ana Colon told the Times-Dispatch.
“The infection can be very serious.”
Colon said Virginia sees an average of 40 to 50 cases of vibrio infection every year.