Health officials in Calvert County warn of flesh-eating bacteria risk in Chesapeake Bay

CALVERT COUNTY, Md. (WJLA) – Officials with the Calvert County Health Department have identified five cases of flesh-eating bacteria infections in the Chesapeake Bay so far this summer, causing some residents to worry about contracting the bacteria while visiting local beaches.

The bacteria, called vibrio, is a saltwater bacteria, some varieties of which can cause life-threatening skin and blood infections and intestinal illnesses, according to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation in a newly released report.

Due to the increase in vibrio cases, health officials are warning people about the dangers of the bacteria as they continue to test the waters for the presence of vibrio.

Just last month, a Stafford, Va. man almost lost his leg after he swam in the Potomac River and contracted the bacteria through a scratch on his leg.

The number of cases in Maryland reached a 10-year high, with 57 reported cases. There have been 27 reported cases in Virginia so far this year, compared to eight last year.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation recommends those who plan to visit the bay or its tributaries take the following precautions: avoiding swimming for 48 hours after a heavy rainstorm in the area, avoiding blue-green algae growths in the water, showering after swimming or boating, avoiding water contact if one has open sores, checking government advisors for public beaches and fishing, and having drinking water tested in rural areas.

Dr. Larry Polsky, Calvert County health officer, tells ABC 7 News that people over 60 and those with compromised immune systems are at higher risk. If you get a cut, he says to wash it with soap and water as soon as possible. If you notice redness, swelling or develop a fever, go to the emergency room.

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