5 hospitalized this summer due to bacteria exposure in Long Island Sound, DPH says


HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — The Connecticut Dept. of Public Health (DPH) is warning residents in shoreline areas about the potential dangers of exposure to salt or brackish water along the Long Island Sound. This is due to the bacteria in the water that officials say have caused several infections over the summer.

There have been five people in Connecticut who have suffered infections from Vibrio vulnificus since July. Two of them had septicemia, which is an infection of the bloodstream, and three had serious wound infections. All of them had to be hospitalized.

Four men and one woman between the ages of 49-85-years-old were the patients. All of these patients already had wounds or sustained new wounds when exposed to the bacteria, according to DPH. They were all either swimming, boating, or crabbing in the salt or brackish water.

Reaction to this alert from DPH raising red flags among people along the shoreline today.

“Those infections are serious,” said Gay Lopes, who was on a bench at the beach in West Haven with loved ones. “You have to be careful when you come to the beach.”

“If people are going in there with open wounds, or whatever the case maybe, of course you’re always putting yourself in danger,” said Linda Ennes, of Hamden.

To avoid getting infected, DPH says people with wounds should stay out of salt or brackish water or cover their wounds with a waterproof bandage. Also, wash wounds and cuts thoroughly with soap and water after they have contact with salt or brackish water, raw seafood, or its juices.

The Dept. of Public Health says about 1 in 5 people with this type of Vibrio infection die, sometimes within a day or two of becoming ill. Some cases could result in limb amputation.

Older people and those with weakened immune systems are at most risk for illness from Vibrio vulnificus.

Between 2010-2019, there were only seven cases of Vibrio vulnificus infections in Connecticut.

“I think people need to be cautious,” said Ennes. “They need to listen.”

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