Chesapeake Bay Bacteria Infects Three Talbot Co. Residents - 47 ABC - Delmarva's Choice

Chesapeake Bay Bacteria Infects Three Talbot Co. Residents

Posted: Updated:

TALBOT CO., Md. – If you are out on the Chesapeake Bay this summer, there is a chance you are going to get wet. It's something you probably will not think twice about, but there is a reason you may want to.

Across the state of Maryland, there have been four cases of Vibrio vulnificus this summer, which comes from the bacteria "vibrio." The bacteria naturally occur in brackish waterways like the Chesapeake Bay, and are especially prevalent in May through October when the water temperature is higher. Three of those confirmed cases happened right in Talbot County.

"I don't think we've ever had that many in a specific season," says Liz Whitby, Supervisor for the Infections Disease Program at the Talbot County Health Department.

One of those residents is still lucky to be alive.

James Haddaway Sr., a Talbot County waterman, was crabbing on the Chesapeake Bay back in early June. He had a small scab on his leg that apparently got splashed with water. At first, he says it started to feel stiff, but a few hours later, he realized he needed to go to the hospital.

"It wasn't enough for me to even know I had water on it. It wasn't a bad cut at all," says Haddaway. "When it hurt so bad I had to have someone get on my boat and help me get off, it's pretty bad. I've had appendix operations, I've had hernia operations, you name it I've had it hurt me, but that's the first thing I've had that just made me give up and come home. It hurt that bad."

Haddaway says he went to a hospital in Easton, and then went to PRMC once doctors realized that he had a prior heart condition.

"I woke up in intensive care the next morning and my heart doctor told me I had just about two more hours and I wouldn't have lived through it."

Whitby says watermen are the most at risk just because of their line of work, but the bacteria can affect anyone.

"They're doing lots of things where they have cuts and scrapes, they're fooling with crabs, they are fooling with fish. It's common for a waterman to get a cut and then rinse their hands in the water which can be very dangerous," says Whitby. "It's very important if you have any cuts and wounds that you do not go in the water."

Whitby says if you do have a cut and still need to be out on the water, be sure to cover the area. For anyone that gets injured, she recommends washing with soap and water, or if that is not available right away, hand sanitizer.

"If a cut or a scrape comes into contact with the infected water, and the wound becomes swollen, red,  and painful, those are common symptoms" says Whitby. "The most important thing is getting treatment immediately. It is a fatal disease if it's not treated right away."

The bacteria is especially serious for those with an impaired immune system. That may have been the case for Haddaway, who has had prior health issues, including a heart condition.

After a month in the hospital and weeks without walking, he still has a long road of recovery ahead of him.

"I've worked on the water since I was big enough to get on the boat , and now I'm going to spend the rest of the summer not going," says Haddaway. "I'm having a pretty rough summer right now."

For more information on vibrio and other bacteria infectors, visit the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene website.

Powered by WorldNow
Powered by WorldNow All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WMDT. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.