WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Vibro Vulnificus, dubbed the ‘Flesh-eating bacteria,’ has yet to make it to North Carolina, but it has spread already from the Gulf of Mexico to southern Virginia.
It has claimed lives from both coasts, the latest being a man from Tennessee who was in Florida at the time.
Doctors say symptoms resemble the flu and need to be taken seriously.
“The signs of early infection generally are a fever, chills, a rash. Along with that a rash, with this particular type of bacteria, come big blister-type lesions," said Andrew Illobre, a PA at Masonboro Family Medicine. "So, if a person has a wound or that type of situation where they’re seeing those kinds of signs, they need to get seen right away.”
The bacteria is found mainly in warm water and needs salt to thrive.
“It tends to live best in above 55-60 degree range. The warmer the water, the faster it multiplies. It tends to be found in places where there’s shellfish, crabs, oysters, things like that,” said Illobre.
Illobre warns that anybody swimming with an open wound is more susceptible to the bacteria.
“The deeper the wound, the more apt it is to get an infection of any type," said Illobre. “Keep out of the areas that have high concentration of bacteria to start with and that will take some of the risk out. And try to swim in clearer, better water rather than back water.”