When it is warm outside, spraying in the ocean, the lake and even the pool is a popular way to beat the heat. But as global temperatures rise, scientists also say the chances of catching a nasty – and even deadly – mistake.
The terrifying thing that makes headlines this summer is Vibrio vulnificusalso referred to in media reports as "meat-eating bacteria". Historically, it has been found in hot salt and juicy water, such as the Gulf of Mexico. So far this summer, one death has been linked to the disease, and another man has spent nearly two weeks in the hospital – and on locations off the Gulf Coast.
But Vibrio is not the only danger in warming the waters. There may be lakes and freshwater canals Naegleria fowleri, also known as the "amoeba-eating brain". Swimming pools, especially the public ones, may contain a parasite that disturbs the intestines Cryptosporidium.
Bacteria, amoebas and parasites have one thing in common – they are thermophilic, which means they like warm.
Climate change creates more attractive environments for all of them – including in waters off Florida. Warm areas, such as Florida, become warmer for longer periods of time, and areas that have been traditionally too cold for any of these pathogens to thrive are also warming. Higher concentrations of Vibrio, for example, have already begun to appear in the North Atlantic, more recently in North Carolina.
"Will we see more cases? Absolutely, "said Andrew Rusk, an associate professor of public health at Florida International University. "You will see the Vibrio cases in winter and you will see the Vibrio cases in traditionally colder places in Florida. You increase the likelihood of exposure. "
Of course, meat-eating bacteria are already a problem in Florida, especially in the unusually hot bay. The Florida Department of Health reported 92 cases of bacterial infection in 2017 and 2018, of which 20 died. As of July 12 this year, 10 cases have been registered.
The estimate of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is around 205 Vibrio vulnificus cases every year in the United States. But thanks to climate change, many experts predict that number will increase.
A recent study published in Annals of Internal Medicine showed Vibrio vulnificus is moving in greater quantities to new territories while warm global waters. Bacteria affected five people in New Jersey and Delaware in 2017 and 2018, areas where previously it was rare to meet.
“We have already seen Vibrio moving along the coast and we will continue to see how it does, "said Rusk, a member of the FIU Global Consortium.
But do you really eat your body?
"Short answer, yes. Long answer, define a meal, "Rusk said. "Eating meat is a bit sensational in the same way as a 'human-eating shark.'
Vibrio infection is like frostbite, she said. The body sacrifices parts of itself to focus on the resources of the underlying organs, and when those resources withdraw from the site of infection, the tissue suffocates and dies.
The cure includes a course of "hard" antibiotics, wound cleaning and maybe even skin grafts, Rusk said. Bacterial infection has a mortality rate of about 25 percent, usually when complications such as sepsis occur.
In freshwater, the main concern is Naegleria fowlerialso known as the "brain-eating amoeba". It is harmless if swallowed; gastric acid dissolves it. But if the amoeba gets into his nose, he can crawl on his nose and start living up to his name.
"It's a proper name," said Dennis Kyle, a professor of cell biology at the University of Georgia. "They're literally doing it."
He calls it "98 percent deadly, but 99 percent preventable." A North Carolina man has died after contracting waterborne illness this month.
Amoebic infections are most common in the lower third of the country, including Texas, Georgia, and Florida. Therefore, some summer camps require carrying noses for water ports during the hottest summer months – as a precautionary measure against amoeba.
Any freshwater, even water from water, can contain amoeba, as long as it is warm. There have been cases of people being diagnosed with water in a n-slide or mesh pot, a plastic device used to drain sines.
But in the last decade, this rare infection has spread to the north, to Maryland, Indiana, Kansas and even Minnesota, as Dr. Enenifer Cop of the Centers for Disease Control said, "600 miles north of any a previously confirmed case. "
"I think there is no doubt that with climate change and rising temperatures we will have more cases and more exposure," Kyle said.
The small number of cases (less than eight per year on average) makes it difficult to determine if there are really more cases now, both researchers warn. Because there is an increasing effort to train physicians to detect amoeba. Many cases are not diagnosed until autopsy, and a CDC study has estimated that there are probably about 16 missed cases a year that go to death certificates as generic neurological infections.
"We don't think we are missing out on hundreds or thousands of cases, but there are certainly missing cases," Cope said.
Part of that effort is being run by the Smileski family in central Florida, who lost their son Jordan after being caught by a hot spring in Costa Rica in 2014. He was 11 years old.
Steve Smileski has since been on a mission to train doctors to recognize the rare disease and hospitals to carry antibiotics cocktails that stop him in her tracks. He said a recent case, when a child from South Florida was quickly diagnosed and given the drug, made the point for him. That boy needed only two weeks of physical therapy before he returned to normal. An Arkansas girl with the same amoeba received the drug eight hours later. It took her 50 weeks of physical therapy.
"That can be fatal. Eight hours can be 48 weeks of physical therapy, "he said. "When he eats his brain, every hour counts."
Although the most deadly errors occur in fresh and salty water, chlorine-infused pools can still contain potentially harmful diseases.
Swimming pools can be home to tolerant chlorine Cryptosporidium, a water-borne parasite that comes from faecal contamination. Rusk said it usually spreads to infants, who are not known for their ability to contain the intestines.
Crypto, as it is known, likes hot water and is more common in the summer. The symptoms are fluid and can be resolved independently by most people with a healthy immune system. It is dangerous for children, the elderly or anyone with a compromised immune system.
And, like other water-borne pathogens, warmer weather means a longer season with a higher chance of exposure throughout the year.
"It's getting hotter as more people go to the pools," Rusk said. "And again you have a higher risk of contraction."
How to be safe
– Avoid a Vibrio vulnificus infection, experts recommend not exposing any open sores (which include bite bites) to salt or juicy water. Wear water shoes to avoid scratches or scratches on rocks or shells. And, if your wound is larger or develops blisters after exposure to ocean water, seek medical attention immediately.
"One of the biggest problems with Vibrio vulnificus whether they don't seek medical attention fast enough, "Rusk said.
The people at highest risk are those with weak immune systems, such as children, the elderly, or those undergoing cancer treatment. Rusk also noted that people with HIV are at risk, and Florida has one of the largest HIV-positive populations in the country.
– Avoid a Naegleria fowleri infection, be careful not to heat the freshwater legs. Hold your nose when the ball, Rusk advises.
North Carolina man dies of brain-eating amoeba after visiting water park
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Climate change will increase Florida's risk of amoeba in the brain-eating and meat-eating bacteria (2019, August 5)
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