(ORDO NEWS) — Scientists at the University of East Anglia found that the number of infections by the carnivorous bacterium Vibrio vulnificus on the East Coast of the United States rose from 10 to 80 over a 30-year period.
By 2041-2060, infections could spread to large communities around New York.
The flesh-eating bacteria Vibrio vulnificus grows in warm, shallow coastal waters and can infect cuts or insect bites when in contact with seawater.
In the late 1980s, infections were reported in the Gulf of Mexico and along the southern Atlantic coast, but were rare north of Georgia. Today they are found as far north as Philadelphia.
By 2081-2100, infections could affect every eastern US state under medium to high future emission and warming scenarios. If emissions are kept low, cases could only spread as far north as Connecticut.
It is predicted that, against the backdrop of climate change, by the end of the 21st century, about 140-200 V. vulnificus infections may be recorded each year.
Although the number of cases in the US is low, the chance of death of a person infected with V. vulnificus is one in five. Outbreaks peak in the summer, when the bacteria spread rapidly and severely damage human flesh.
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