CORPUS CHRISTI (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — South Texas health officials say a person died after becoming infected with bacteria while wade fishing in the Gulf of Mexico.
Health officials said Tuesday that an elderly individual was hospitalized with severe leg pain after going into the ocean with skin tears.
“The patient presented to a local hospital with severe leg pain and classic signs of a bacterial infection,” health officials said in a release. “Measures were taken to fight the infection, including amputation but unfortunately the patient passed away within 24 to 36 hours of admission.”
The Corpus Christi-Nueces County Public Health District says vibrio bacteria naturally inhabit coastal waters where oysters live. The bacteria can enter the body through an open wound or by consuming raw or undercooked shellfish.
“These bacteria present in higher concentrations between May and October when water temperatures are warmer,” said health officials.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says vibriosis causes an estimated 80,000 illnesses and 100 deaths each year in the U.S.
Dr. Emilie Prot with the Texas Department of State Health Services says there’s a higher amount of the bacteria present in summer months.
The CDC also shared tips on how to to reduce the risk of vibriosis:
- Don’t eat raw or undercooked oysters or other shellfish. Cook them before eating.
- Always wash your hands (https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/) with soap and water after handling raw shellfish.
- Avoid contaminating cooked shellfish with raw shellfish and its juices.
- Stay out of brackish or salt water if you have a wound (including cuts and scrapes), or cover your pound with a waterproof bandage if there’s a possibility it could come into contact with brackish or salt water, raw seafood, or raw seafood juices. Brackish water is a mixture of fresh and sea water. It is often found where rivers meet the sea.
- Wash wounds and cuts thoroughly with soap and water if they have been exposed to seawater or raw seafood or its juices.
- If you develop a skin infection, tell your medical provider if your skin has come into contact with brackish or salt water, raw seafood, or raw seafood juices.