An elderly Florida man is in a Jacksonville hospital fighting a dangerous coastal-bacteria infection as the 27th suspected Vibrio vulnificus victim this year in the Sunshine State.
George Clarke, 79, was infected with Vibrio vulnificus after a crab pinched him Saturday night, said his grandson, Bob Karstetter. Clarke was bit in Nassau County, which is north of Jacksonville at the Florida-Georgia state line.
State health officials have confirmed 26 cases of Vibrio vulnificus infections this year. Nine have been fatal, including a Flagler County man who died of the infection.
State officials didn't immediately respond to requests about Clarke on Wednesday.
"His arm turned completely black, and they have given him five antibiotics," Karstetter told the Orlando Sentinel this week.
An infectious-disease team is supervising the intense treatment for Clarke at Baptist Medical Center Jacksonville, said Karstetter, who contacted the Sentinel in hopes of warning the public about the threat.
"This bacteria is so fast moving that it is imperative people know to get to a hospital immediately," Karstetter said.
The Flagler County man — 59-year-old Henry "Butch" Konietzky — died after he was infected while crabbing in the Halifax River in Volusia County, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reported.
Volusia has had two nonfatal cases, including a man who ate raw oysters in Louisiana and became ill when he returned home. Information about the other case wasn't available.
Vibrio vulnificus is from the same family of bacteria that cause cholera. It needs salt from seawater to survive, and it usually pops up during summer months in the warm Gulf Coast waters, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
It is found in salt water and contaminated raw seafood, especially oysters, but chances of infection are higher for people with impaired immune systems.
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