Drop in Galveston tourism after flesh-eating bacteria scare

FILE: Galveston beach
FILE: Galveston beach

GALVESTON, Texas (KXAN) — A case of flesh-eating bacteria could be to blame for the drop in tourism at a Texas hot spot.

Galveston has seen a significant drop in tourists. Some business owners say their profits are down by as much as three percent. Businesses are also blaming flooding earlier this year in Houston and Louisiana.

In July, a doctor warned beach-goers of reported cases of flesh-eating bacteria in Galveston after a man contracted the infection on a vacation in Port Aransas. It started as a headache and a rash, but over the next few days Adrian Ruiz’s condition worsened and a doctor diagnosed him with Vibrio Vulnificus.

“Once the doctor looked at his foot, he said ‘I think this is cellulitis, but I know you have been in the beach water. I’m not trying to alarm you or scare you but there has been flesh-eating bacteria reported in Galveston,’” said Adrian’s wife Lashelle Ruiz.

Vibrio is a bacteria caused by eating under-cooked shellfish or by entering contaminated water with a cut or open wound. The flesh-eating bacteria is more common during the summer months.

Tips for avoiding bacterial infections:

  • Do not handle raw seafood of any kind if you have a pre-existing wound.
  • Wear protective clothing (ie. Gloves) when handling raw seafood.
  • Avoid marine, estuarine or brackish (sea/ocean) water if you have a pre-existing wound.
  • If you sustain a wound or injury while exposed to salty seawater or while handling seafood, thoroughly clean and disinfect the area immediately and seek medical attention if the area becomes inflamed.

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