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Vibrion infection: woman dies after bathing in the Baltic Sea
In Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, a woman died after a bath in the Baltic Sea. She had been infected with vibrions. According to health experts, these bacteria can be particularly dangerous for people with chronic basic illnesses, a weakened immune system as well as for older people. But how threatening are the pathogens really?
First death from vibrion infection
According to experts, vibrations can occur with the currently higher temperatures in the Baltic Sea, which in rare cases can lead to serious infections. Mecklenburg-West Pomerania now has the first death from such a disease. According to the State Office for Health and Social Affairs (LAGuS), the dead person is an elderly woman who belonged to the risk group of immunocompromised persons, reports the North German Broadcasting Corporation (NDR).
Four other diseases registered
For reasons of data protection law, the office did not disclose where the woman came from and where she became infected.
According to the information, the authority has registered four other diseases from vibrion infections in addition to the death since June.
Last summer, the LAGuS counted a total of 18 diseases, including three deaths.
More bacteria through higher temperatures
Vibrions are a natural bacterial component in salty sea water. "They multiply especially with a salt content of 0.5% and a temperature of around 20 degrees Celsius," explains the LAGuS in one of several information sheets that can be downloaded from the website of the authority.
"These conditions also exist on the German North and Baltic Sea coasts, especially in warm summers," it continues.
According to the experts, "there is a certain, albeit very low, risk of contracting an infection from vibrations".
Pathogens can get into the body through wounds
According to the LAGuS, superficial and deep skin injuries are the main entry points for infections with vibrations in the Baltic Sea region.
The bacteria get into the body when bathing or wading in excitement-rich Baltic Sea water. Wound infections associated with profound necrosis play the major role in the region.
Infections with vibrions can be identified by reddening, swelling or blistering of the skin. You may experience a fever, chills, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, or a shock.
From this, so-called sepsis (blood poisoning) can develop very quickly.
"A life-threatening condition can develop relatively quickly," warn the experts.
Who is particularly at risk
The risk of illness essentially exists for people with chronic basic diseases (e.g. liver disease, alcohol dependence, diabetes mellitus) or with an existing immune deficiency (e.g. after transplants or with an existing HIV infection) as well as for older people.
"If you belong to one of these risk groups, avoid contacting open wounds with salt water!" Warns the authority.
And people with open or poorly healing wounds should also consider carefully whether they are exposed to sea water containing vibrions. If necessary, the wound can be covered with waterproof plaster and bathing is possible.
Speed can save lives
In general, the infection becomes noticeable after 12 and 72 hours. "This very short incubation period usually means that affected people usually fall ill near the place where they became infected," writes the LAGuS.
If symptoms appear, a doctor should be consulted immediately and contact with sea water should be advised.
Adequate therapy with antibiotics and possibly surgical wound care should be given immediately if there is suspicion of this.
"The following applies: speed can save lives," said the experts. (ad)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.