Connecticut health officials warn residents of illness in LI Sound

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The Connecticut Dept. of Public Health has warned residents on the state’s shoreline about an illness caused by bacteria in salt or brackish water.

On Saturday September 12, 2020, health officials said there had been an unusually high number of infections caused by bacteria in the salt or brackish water (a mix of salt and fresh water) along Long Island Sound.

Five cases of Vibrio vulnificus infections have been reported to DPH since July, according to health officials.

Experts said two patients each are from Fairfield county, Middlesex county and the other three are from New Haven county.

While all five are between the ages of 49 and 85 years old, four of the patients are men and one is a woman.

Two of the patients had an infection of the bloodstream and three had serious wound infections.

All five patients were hospitalized and no deaths have been reported, they added.

Investigators said all five patients reported exposure to salt or brackish water during activities such as swimming, crabbing and boating.

Health officials said all five patients also had pre-existing wounds or sustained new wounds during these activities that led to the infections.

“The identification of these five cases over two months is very concerning. This suggests the Vibrio bacteria may be present in salt or brackish water in or near Long Island Sound, and people should take precautions,” said State Epidemiologist for DPH Dr. Matthew Cartter.

The Vibrio vulnificus infection is described by health experts as extremely rare, with only seven cases reported in Connecticut in the past 10 years between 2010 and 2019.

The Vibrio vulnificus can “cause wound infections when open wounds are exposed to warm salt or brackish water (mix of salt and fresh water.)

The bacteria, once inside the body, can infect the bloodstream causing septicemia, and people with a V. vulnificus infection can get seriously ill and need intensive care or limb amputation,” Dept. of Public Health experts said.

Authorities said about one in five people with this type of infection die, and it can sometimes be within a day or two of becoming ill.

Those at the greatest risk for illness are those with weakened immune systems and the elderly, they added.

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