Watermen Question Vibrio Increase - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Watermen Question Vibrio Increase

Image Courtesy CDC Image Courtesy CDC
 EASTON, Md.- Many Talbot County residents are starting to wonder why Vibrio Vulnificus, an infection that hits hard and fast, is unfortunately becoming a more common occurrence this year.

Rob Newberry wants to make it clear.  He isn't accusing anyone of anything. But he does have some questions that he wants answered.

"I just think they need to test this material to see if it might contain some of this bacteria." said Newberry.
The all too familiar material he is worrying about is the fossilized shell currently being dumped in the Little Choptank, and formerly in Harris Creek.  Some watermen believe that more vibrio, which United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says is common to the gulf coast, was brought to Maryland via this shell.

WBOC spoke with a scientist at the Maryland Department of the Environment today who says it is highly unlikely the bacteria survived on the shell, because it survives only in water and she didn't see a link between the shells and the number of cases of vibrio.

The Department of Natural Resources sent the following statement.

"As we have for decades, DNR, MDE and DHMH will continue to work together to inform people about vibrio bacteria and the cautions that must be taken by all who work or play in our bay's waters.  Vibrio bacteria are ubiquitous in Chesapeake Bay, and cautions must always be taken. There is no reason to believe oyster restoration activities that have been underway for just over six months are somehow linked to the multi-decade trend in vibrio illnesses.  Quarried stone products are not carriers of disease."

But Newberry believes there's a chance they could be wrong.

"As long as the material is wet, it's got a home.  It's coming from that area and I just think the state needs to step up to the plate and test this material."

But the health department believes this is just an unfortunate fluke in the number of cases this year.

"It is a common, naturally occurring bacteria that is found in the waters. So people just need to take precautions as far as trying to prevent infection." said Liz Whitby with the Talbot County Health Department.For prevention, people with compromised immune systems are more at risk. 

Whitby says avoid the water if you have any cuts, and be sure to wash up once you are out of the water with soap.  Also, be sure any seafood you do eat is cooked thoroughly.

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