By Hank Russell
A deadly case of vibriosis was reported in Suffolk County on August 16, but details have not been released on who the victim was or how they contracted the disease.
“While rare, the vibrio bacteria has unfortunately made it to this region and can be extraordinarily dangerous,” Governor Kathy Hochul said in a statement. “As we investigate further, it is critical that all New Yorkers stay vigilant and take responsible precautions to keep themselves and their loved ones safe.”
According to the New York State Department of Health’s (NYS DOH) website, vibriosis is an illness that is caused by the Vibrio vulnificus bacteria and often happens as the result of eating raw or undercooked shellfish or exposing an open wound to seawater. The bacteria can be found in saltwater coastal environments; there are greater concentrations of vibriosis during the warmer months, from May to October.
While anyone is susceptible to vibriosis, those who have liver disease, chronic liver disease, cancer or a weakened immune system have a greater chance of being infected. Those who are taking medications to control stomach acid are also more likely to be infected.
Symptoms usually show up within 12 to 24 hours, according to the NYS DOH, and can last from one day to one week. Symptoms include diarrhea, stomach cramps, vomiting, fever, chills, ear and wound infections. The infections often appear red and swollen.
“While we continue to investigate the source of this rare infection, it is important for residents to remain aware and vigilant on precautions that can be taken,” said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone”. As always, if any residents have health concerns we encourage them to contact their health care provider.”
“We are reminding providers to be on the lookout for cases of vibriosis, which is not often the first diagnosis that comes to mind,” New York State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said. “We are also suggesting to New Yorkers that if you have wounds, you should avoid swimming in warm seawater. And, if you have a compromised immune system, you should also avoid handling or eating raw seafood that could also carry the bacteria.”
Long Island Life & Politics reached out to the Suffolk County Health Department in an attempt to get more details on the victim. The agency referred this reporter to a press release issued by the governor’s office. LILP also contacted the NYS DOH via email. Danielle De Souza, the department’s public information officer, replied, “We have no further information at this time.”