Health Highlights: July 30, 2014
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Florida Issues Warning on Warm Water Flesh-Eating Bacteria
Florida health officials are cautioning visitors to the state's beaches about the threat of a flesh-eating bacteria lurking in warm seawater this summer.
Vibrio vulnificus propagates in warm water and if swallowed can cause stomachache, vomiting and diarrhea, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If it enters an open wound, "skin breakdown and ulceration" can also occur, the CDC said.
According to ABC News, 11 Floridians have already been infected with Vibrio vulnificus in 2014 and two have died. Last year, 41 people contracted the illness in the state and 11 died. Similar outbreaks have occurred in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, the CDC said.
The agency stressed that most people who contract Vibrio vulnificus will recover after taking antibiotics, but in cases where the illness becomes "flesh-eating," surgery and even amputation may be needed.
According to the CDC, you can protect yourself from the bacterium by keeping open wounds away from warm saltwater, brackish water or shellfish; wear protective clothing if you handle raw shellfish; cook all shellfish thoroughly and don't let shellfish "juices" drip onto other food. Shellfish that is not eaten soon after cooking should be refrigerated.
Leading Doctor in Ebola Outbreak Dies From the Disease
One of the leading physicians in the fight against an outbreak of deadly Ebola virus in Sierra Leone has himself died after battling the illness. According to the Associated Press, physician Dr. Sheik Humarr Khan died Tuesday after being hospitalized in quarantine.
Ebola spreads easily between people and kills up to 90 percent of those infected. The World Health Organization says that, as of July 23, a total of 672 people have died in the outbreak in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
One man also died soon after arriving by plane in Lagos, Nigeria. According to the AP, Patrick Sawyer, an American of Liberian descent, boarded an ASKY airlines plane from Liberia to Ghana, then flew to Lagos after a stop in Togo. He was visibly sick during these flights and died in Lagos on Friday. Health officials are tracking anyone who may have come into contact with Sawyer, the AP said.
Two Americans are also fighting for their lives against Ebola, which currently has no cure or antivirus.
Dr. Kent Brantly, who was treating victims of the Ebola outbreak in Liberia, is currently being treated in an isolation unit in the Liberian capital, Monrovia, the AP reported Tuesday.
"I'm praying fervently that God will help me survive this disease," Brantly said in an email Monday to Dr. David Mcray, the director of maternal-child health at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas. The Texas-born Brantly, 33, completed a four-year medical residency at the hospital, the AP said.
Brantly's wife and two young children left Liberia to return to Abilene, Texas, days before he began to show symptoms of Ebola. They are being monitored for any signs of fever, a City of Abilene spokeswoman told the AP.
A second American, aid worker Nancy Writebol of Charlotte, N.C., is also stricken with Ebola, according to CBS/AP. Writebol had been working as a hygienist to help decontaminate people at an Ebola care center in Monrovia.