Tourists are being warned after an OAP in Germany died after contracting a killer Vibrio infection whilst swimming – with four others now infected by the bug which thrives in hot weather.
The elderly woman reportedly died this week after she cut herself whilst bathing at a beach in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern on the German north coast bounded to the north by the Baltic Sea and the cut was infected with the Vibrio bacteria.
Most disease-causing strains of Vibrio are associated with gastroenteritis, but they can also infect open wounds and cause sepsis. They can cause fatal infections in humans during exposure and German authorities have warned people with immune system deficiencies to stay away from the beaches in the area.
Heiko Will from the Local Health Authorities said: “The older woman belonged to a high-risk group of people with immune system weaknesses. If the bacteria get into the human body, they can cause serious wound infections and in extreme cases lead to sepsis.
“We are still investigating the case, we are unsure of which part of the coastline the woman was infected on. She died at the end of July. Vibrio has appeared in numerous locations. The current high temperatures mean they are multiplying fast.”
He added: “There is not a complete warning in place, it would be like warning against ticks.
“People with wounds should avoid contact with the saltwater at the moment. Tourists are being given info flyers so they know what to look out for and how to react to possible infections.”
The authorities confirmed there were four further cases of people being infected.
Will warned against people panicking though. Since 2003 when records began there have been eight deaths and 53 recorded cases due to Vibrio bacteria in Germany. Last year there were 17 infections, including three deaths. However, each year millions of people visit the beaches so in relation the risk is very low.
The heatwave in Germany currently is helping the virus.
Martina Littmann, head of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern’s health department, said: “Vibrio bacteria multiply especially at a salt content of 0.5 percent and above a temperature of about 20 degrees Celsius [68 degrees Fahrenheit],”
Microbiologist Christine Rohde said: “In the hot summer months as a result of climate change bacteria in the water is multiplying fast, as they love warmth.”
No information about the victim’s age or nationality has been released.
The Vibrio bacteria is particularly dangerous for those with a compromised immune system or chronic liver disease.
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