Climate Change: Is It Making Our Seafood Deadly?

Man loses arms and legs after eating Maryland crabs 

Rachael Rettner, June 18, 2019

| Fox News – “Flesh-eating” bacteria that live in the ocean may be spreading to previously unaffected beach waters thanks to climate change, according to a new report.

The report authors described five cases of severe flesh-eating bacterial infections in people who were exposed to water or seafood from the Delaware Bay.

Such infections have historically been rare in the Delaware Bay, as the bacterium responsible for the disease, called Vibrio vulnificus, prefers warmer waters, such as those in the Gulf of Mexico.

But with rising ocean temperatures due to climate change, V. vulnificus may be moving farther north.

The authors noted that from 2008 to 2016, their hospital saw just one case of V. vulnificus. But in the summers of 2017 and 2018, that number jumped to five.

All of these patients had either gone crabbing in the Delaware Bay or consumed seafood from the area, and all developed necrotizing fasciitis. One patient died.

  • In one case, a 46-year-old man sustained a minor injury to his leg while crabbing. Two days later, he developed progressive pain, swelling and blistering of his injured leg, which turned out to be an infection caused by V. vulnificus. He needed emergency surgery to remove dead tissue from his leg, and he needed skin grafts to repair large wounds.
  • In another case, a 64-year-old man developed severe swelling and fluid-filled blisters on his right hand after cleaning and eating crabs. Despite undergoing emergency surgery, he developed an abnormal heart rate and soon died.
  • And a 60-year-old man who went crabbing and ate a dozen crabs from the Delaware Bay developed progressive swelling in his right leg. He required surgery to relieve pressure in his leg. But his condition worsened and spread to his other limbs; doctors eventually needed to amputate all four limbs, though the man did survive. Read more.