If you’ve been reading news articles about Florida and health lately, you may be scratching your head at some of the developments. While we all found ourselves saying 2020 was the year for weirdness and all things unprecedented, this year isn’t too far behind. Let’s take a look.
There have been 26 cases of vibrio vulnificus in Florida since January of this year; five of those cases proved to be fatal. Vibrio vulnificus is a naturally occurring bacteria in warm, brackish seawater. According to the Florida Department of Health, vibrio vulnificus infections are rare. However, storm surge from Hurricane Ian mixed water from the Gulf with freshwater, creating brackish water where the bacteria can live. Infections occur when the bacteria gets into fresh cuts or scrapes.
The DOH is urging people to be mindful of staying out of the water if they have cuts, as well as advising those with compromised immune systems to wear protective footwear when walking in water.
You’re not alone if you thought leprosy was a disease more common in biblical times. In fact, historically, leprosy — also known as Hansen’s disease — has been uncommon in the US, which saw cases peak in 1983 followed by a drastic reduction. Yet the CDC says Central Florida is in the midst of an outbreak, accounting for 85 percent of cases in Florida and 1 in 5 cases in the country. Most leprosy cases in the U.S. result from international travel to places where it is more common, but officials say some of those infected in Florida have not left the state and haven’t been around animals that could be carriers.
The CDC is collaborating with three states — Florida, Texas and Maryland — to investigate seven locally acquired cases of malaria. Most cases usually result from travel to countries where malaria regularly occurs. However, locally acquired mosquito-transmitted malaria cases can occur. Again, while researchers look into the cases, the DOH urges vigilance and protection against mosquitoes.