Galveston, Texas – The Galveston County Health District has announced that Galveston beaches are safe and clear, just in time for the holiday weekend. The announcement follows concerns around the presence of a flesh-eating bacteria in the beach water.
After two cases of infection of Vibrio, often referred as “the flesh-eating bacteria”, recently reported in Texas, residents and beach-goers were concerned about their safety and the conditions of the water. The Galveston County Health District (GCHD) announced that all 52 beaches are regularly tested and that since Saturday, June 26, lab results have shown that water is safe for swimming.
An official news release by the GCHD stated that the bacteria they test for is called enterococcus, which is common in flood water and rises after heavy rains.
When samples show levels of the bacteria above the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards, advisories are issued to the respective beaches, though they are not closed. The announcement fulfills the function of letting the public know about the conditions of the beach, so they can take the decision themselves to whether or not go into the water.
It is unlikely to develop an infection from Vibrio
— Travis Herzog (@HerzogWeather) July 1, 2016
According to the GCHD statement, Vibrio is commonly present in warm salt and brackish water almost anywhere. However, a spike in the levels occurs only in certain conditions, and it is statistically improbable to develop severe infections -about 0.00002%-. On those cases, persons with weak immune systems and open wounds are almost always the ones involved. They are more susceptible because the bacteria can enter the body through the wound, or, since it can be easily ingested, it can generate problems for the person that way. But something as serious as an amputated leg is a highly rare case.
Scott Packard, a spokesman for the health agency, said that the presence of the bacteria is very common and that most people have been exposed to it without even knowing. “If you’ve ever been to the Gulf of Mexico, or either coast of the United States, you’ve probably been exposed to this bacteria, and you probably didn’t have a negative reaction,” the official stated, according to Texas Public Radio.
The health agency also let know the public that there has not been a trend of increased Vibrio infections in Galveston County, and that, on the contrary, cases have been decreasing in recent years.
The GCHD gives the public different advises
— KPRC 2 Houston (@KPRC2) July 1, 2016
The GCHD recommends people with open sores or wounds or a weak immune system -whatever the reasons are- to stay away from untreated water, such as oceans, lakes or rivers. Also, for those who accidentally cut themselves while in the untreated water, the agency advises to get immediately out of the water, rinse the wound and clean it. If redness or swelling is observed, the person should urgently see a doctor.
Source: Galveston County Health District