A man who visited a Louisiana coastal town plagued with woe since the April 2010 BP oil catastrophe, Grand Isle, nearly died and is suffering from a flesh-eating bacterium, Vibrio vulnificus, that entered an open cut on his leg while he was there.
While Vibrio vulnificus is more notably found in raw Gulf oysters, it also can be deadly if entering an open wound. (See: Vampire of Macondo.)
While fishing on Louisiana’s Gulf coastal rocks in early June, Richard Garey fell and cut his left leg.
“Thought I probably sprang my ankle very badly,” Garey recounted.
At Our Lady of the Sea Hospital in Cut Off, doctors confirmed his ankle was injured, gave an air cast to him, and told him to follow up with his doctor at home.
Many doctors have told people reporting Gulf-related diseases since the BP Gulf oil catastrophe have told patients they are suffering from stress. While no government funding was offered to people suffering with new odd diseases, the government did establish a mental health hotline.
“What doctors didn’t realize was that the real danger was in the cut itsel,” WAFB reports: “A bacterium called vibrio vulnificus was already eating away at [Geraye’s] skin and releasing dangerous toxins into his body.
Within 48 hours of that visit, Garey was in septic shock and rushed to the hospital a second time.
Not until then did doctors realize the extent of the infection. They rushed to prevent total organ failure.
At Terrebonne Hospital, Garey underwent seven surgeries to remove infected tissue and was left with a gaping wound. The alternative was amputation, as many people along the Gulf have experienced since 2010.
“I just remember the shock,” Garey said.”But I also remember the happiness because I knew then that I had a chance of saving my leg,” said the Gonzales resident.”
At Baton Rouge General’s Advance Wound Care, Garey is undergoing hyperbaric therapy.
Virbrio: From Louisiana to Florida Gulf Waters
Last week, Florida’s Department of Health urged residents with certain health conditions to avoid eating raw oysters and exposing open wounds to seawater and estuarine water because they may harbor the Vibrio vulnificus bacterium.
Those with liver damage due to excessive drinking and individuals with liver disease, including Hepatitis C and cirrhosis, are most at risk for developing serious illness from Vibrio vulnificus. Other at-risk health conditions include hemochromatosis (iron overload), diabetes, cancer, stomach disorders or any illness or treatment that weakens the immune system. At-risk individuals are more likely to become extremely ill or die from eating raw oysters containing these bacteria. People in these high-risk groups are also at risk of serious illness if they have wounds, cuts or scratches and wade in estuarine areas or seawater where the bacteria might be present. Individuals living without these conditions can become ill from eating raw oysters containing these bacteria and from exposing open wounds to sea and estuarine waters, although their illnesses tend to be less severe.
The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS) might shut down the oyster harvest area and recall seafood “if multiple incidents emerge from the same location.”
DHH officials urge everyone to be diligent and cautious of any open wounds.
Tips from the DHH include:
- Do not swim near a drainage pipe or in a ditch, or near runoff or littered areas.
- Do not swim in areas with warnings against swimming.
- Avoid swimming after heavy rains.
- Avoid ingesting or swallowing the water.
- Minimize immersing your head when swimming.
- Avoid swimming with an open cut, wound or skin infection.
- Shower after swimming.
Photo credit: textbookofbacteriology.net
Reporter, author and human rights professional for over 30 years, Deborah Dupré tells shocking truths about the Gulf of Mexico In her book,“VAMPIRE of MACONDO: Life, Crimes and Curses in South Louisiana that Powerful Forces Don’t Want You to Know.” In “Vampire of Macondo,” Dupré exposes covered-up facts and victims’ gut-wrenching stories about the 2010 BP/government Gulf oil catastrophe, a continuing humanitarian and environmental historical event.