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Vibrio vulnificus bacteria in water


CDC says 5 die from bacteria after Katrina
Sep 07 2:26 PM US/Eastern

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - As many as five people have died from bacterial infections caused by the dirty water that Hurricane Katrina drove ashore last week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Wednesday.

The patients, evidently evacuees, appear to have been infected with Vibrio vulnificus bacteria, a water-borne pathogen that is related to the bacteria that cause cholera and is common in water off the Gulf of Mexico.

"There was one in Texas and I think three or four in Mississippi that were confirmed by state and local health officials and reported to CDC," CDC spokesman Tom Skinner said. Many hurricane victims from Louisiana have been evacuated to Texas.

Vibrio vulnificus was one of the bacteria that health officials were expecting to find in the floodwaters left by Katrina. It is related to Vibrio cholera, which causes cholera but which is not commonly found in U.S. waters.

"It's one of a number of pathogens that are probably in the water that could cause illness," Skinner said in a telephone interview.

"What happens is the cases that we are talking about here have involved elderly people or people with compromised immune systems who come into contact with this water. It can enter the body through a cut or scratch or some kind of abrasion and if it is not treated with antibiotics it can lead to bloodstream or other kinds of infections."

The CDC has scheduled a news conference for later on Wednesday with more details.


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