Chesapeake Bay officials warn of flesh-eating bacteria

Five cases of flesh-eating bacteria infections have been found this year in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, prompting local organizations to test waters frequently and warn people of the dangers of water pollution, the Baltimore Sun reports.

According to The Baltimore Sun, The Chesapeake Bay Foundation on Friday reissued a 2009 report warning of an increase in vibrio bacteria infections in the bay and its tributaries. Vibrio is a salt water bacteria, some varieties of which can cause life-threatening skin and blood infections and intestinal illnesses.

A 66-year-old man nearly lost his leg last month after contracting an infection while swimming in the bay, according to media reports. Men from Washington, D.C., and Virginia also got infections.

Jeff Holland, river keeper for the West and Rhode rivers, said he has only seen three or four spikes in bacteria counts so far this summer. Those have been after heavy rains — which traditionally do increase the counts.

Still, reports of vibrio bacteria infections elsewhere have caused some concern, he said.

Chesapeake Bay Foundation President Will Baker said the recent health problems “signal the urgent need to continue reducing pollution in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.”

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