Expert assesses risk of vibrios in water

Expert assesses risk of vibrios in water
Photo: Bernd Wüstneck/dpa/dpa-tmn

Vibrio infections are rare but can be fatal. The bacteria also swim in the Baltic Sea, for example. Should you be worried? An expert explains.

The first vibrios of the season were detected in the Baltic Sea in July, and the first infection was recently reported. According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the bacteria are found in fresh and salt water worldwide and can enter the body through wounds, for example. In rare cases, vibrios can cause serious and even fatal infections.

In Florida, for example, according to the public health system Florida Health, six people have died as a result of a vibrio infection since the beginning of 2023. Compared to previous years, these are not exceptionally high numbers. Still, they scare.

So do vacationers have to worry? The chairwoman of the German Society for Infectious Diseases, Prof. Maria Vehreschild, classifies the risk to the German Press Agency (dpa).

Ms. Vehreschild, how dangerous is swimming in waters where vibrios have been detected?

Prof. Maria Vehreschild: The risk can be rated as very low. The water quality at German bathing spots is checked regularly. According to the Robert Koch Institute, between 0 and 20 cases of Vibrio vulnificus infections are known every year; these primarily occur in the warmer summers.

In fact, vibrio viability also depends on water temperature. This increases due to climate change and may at least partially explain the outbreak in Florida.

Which people are particularly at risk?

Essentially, there is a primary risk of illness for people in certain risk groups. These are in particular people with chronic liver diseases, chronic kidney failure, alcohol addiction, diabetes mellitus, immunosuppressive diseases and people of advanced age.

What should you pay attention to when bathing?

People who belong to a risk group are advised to avoid contact of open wounds with salt water.

note symptoms

An early sign of a vibrio infection is pain in a wound – one that is so severe that it is disproportionate to the size of the wound. In addition, fever and chills can indicate an infection, as the RKI writes.

Recognized in good time, an infection – even in high-risk patients – can be controlled with antibiotics. If not treated or treated too late, amputation of the affected limbs may be necessary.

Read more on Techzle\.com:

  • First vibrios of the season detected on the Baltic Sea coast
  • Vibrios in bathing water: you should know that
  • Study: Bacterial hotspots floating in the sea

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