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ALERT: Health Officials Investigate Possible Presence of Flesh-Eating Bacteria in Maryland

Oct 24, 2016 04:18 AM EDT

The death of a man in Maryland has prompted the Health Department to investigate the possible presence of a fatal flesh-eating bacteria in the Assawoman Bay near Ocean City.

Michael Funk, 67, suddenly fell ill on Sept. 11 after entering the waters of Assawoman Bay with an open sore. Funk complained about the excruciating pain he felt in his legs and started vomiting. Marcia Funk, Michael's wife, quickly took him to the hospital where the surgeons removed the infected skin from his leg. Michael was later transferred in a shock trauma in Baltimore. Doctors quickly diagnosed Michael with Vibrio vulnificus infection.

Due to the rapid progression of the infection, doctors amputated the affected leg of Michael. However, the amputation was too late and the infection has spread to his bloodstream, taking the life of Michael just four days after being infected.

Read: Scientists Take One Step Closer in Developing Vaccine Against 'Flesh-Eating Bacteria'

At present, the case is being investigated by health officials, but the department has not yet issued a health advisory for a Vibrio outbreak in Assawoman Bay.

"I really feel they kept it quiet because it's a tourist resort," said Marcia in a report from Daily Times of Maryland. "It's like something out of a horror movie."

In the same news site, Ocean City admitted that the flesh-eating bacteria Vibrio Vulnifucus has never been part of their awareness efforts despite having numerous outreach and education campaigns about other diseases. There is still no available tally of the number of Vibrio cases in the area, making it impossible to determine if there is an outbreak of the infection.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Vibrio Vulnificus is a bacterium that is a rare cause of illness in the U.S. About 90 percent of the 400 Vibrio illness each year were caused by Vibrio Vulnificus.

The flesh-eating bacteria can be acquired by eating raw or undercooked seafood. Vibrio Vulnificus can also enter the body through open wounds. CDC warns that Vibrio Vulnificus thrive in brackish, warm water with low salinity.

The risk of acquiring of the flesh-eating bacteria Vibrio Vulnificus is particularly high during the summer, between May and October. Due to this, health officials are advising people to avoid being in contact with cloudy or murky, warm water and thoroughly cook seafood, especially crab and fish.

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