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  • Ken Perrotte

NOAA Tool Helps Predict Presence of Deadly Bacteria in Chesapeake Bay and Its Tributaries

Summertime Oysters Can Pose Health Threats If Not Properly handled

Anglers, crabbers, swimmers, oyster lovers, and just about anyone in the Chesapeake Bay region with cuts or nicks on their skin, or doing things that could cause such skin damage, need to be careful around the water. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) current forecast shows the presence of the flesh-eating Vibrio vulnificus bacteria in the Chesapeake Bay region. According to their map, waters near the Upper Bay and the Chesapeake’s main tributaries, including the Potomac River, have a 100 percent chance of holding the bacteria. Warm water seems to exacerbate the risk.

Many people associate a vibrio infection with eating tainted oysters, but according to Chesapeake Bay Magazine’s Bay Bulletin, about one-third of the cases in the last five years came from water contact. In 2019, the latest year of complete data, there were 95 cases of vibrio in Maryland, and 31 of them didn’t come from food.

What makes the presence of Vibrio vulnificus bacteria particularly worrisome is that an infection can occur under seemingly benign circumstances. According to experts, the infection doesn’t require cutting your hand on an oyster or crab shell, getting finned by a fish, or slicing a finger on a gill plate. Contact between water holding the bacteria and any cut or wound puts you at risk.

Here is a link to my full article, published Field & Stream.

Savvy Watermen Always Wear Gloves When Handling Crabs or Oyster


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