— Geographic range of Vibrio vulnificus is expanding due to climate change
Following a trio of fatal cases in the Northeast, the CDC is alerting healthcare professionals to suspect Vibrio vulnificus infection, which requires rapid treatment to reduce mortality.
CDC issued a Health Alert Network advisory urging clinicians to “consider V. vulnificus as a possible cause of infected wounds that were exposed to coastal waters” — especially if near the Gulf of Mexico or East Coast, and when sea surface temperatures are warmest.
Since July 1, there have been three deaths in the Northeast — two in Connecticut and one in New York — due to V. vulnificus, and North Carolina saw three deaths due to the bacteria during that time, CDC said.
While V. vulnificus has most commonly been reported in Gulf Coast states, scientists say climate change is expanding the bacteria’s distribution and increasing the number of people who may be at risk. Florida, for instance, has already had seven confirmed V. vulnificus-related deaths this year.
Wound infections due to the bacteria rose eight-fold from 1988 to 2018, according to a recent study in Nature. In addition, its northern case limit shifted northward by about 30 miles per year during that time, the study found.
“The northward V. vulnificus infection expansion stresses the need for increased individual and public health V. vulnificus awareness in these areas,” the authors wrote. “This is crucial as prompt action when symptoms occur is necessary to prevent major health outcomes.”
There are many species in the Vibrio genus — including V. cholerae, which causes cholera — and they t…..