Video: Flesh-Eating Bacteria Strikes Again in the Gulf of Mexico

Video: Flesh-Eating Bacteria Strikes Again in the Gulf of Mexico
Science & Medicine

Ever since the BP Gulf oil spill of 2011, the incidence of cases of flesh-eating bacteria coming directly from the Gulf of Mexico has steadily increased. Bacteria such as Vibrio vulnificus are usually the primary cause of these emergency cases. The subsequent raging infections can spread so quickly that they often necessitate the amputation of a limb.

Each Spring and Summer brings many unsuspecting beachgoers to the GOM coastline. Particularly in the states of Florida and Texas an unlucky few will make the mistake of entering the waters with open cuts and sores. This is always the mistake that can eventually translate to a full-blown flesh-eating bacteria infection.

“When Zach Mody stepped into the Gulf of Mexico last month to take a photo of the sunset, the water splashed over his foot, which had a small cut on it. “I didn’t think anything about it,” he told local ABC-7 affiliate WZVN.

His foot soon developed a red spot, and 12 hours later the pain was so bad he checked himself into a hospital. Doctors performed seven surgeries on him as the infection spread. Eventually, they had to amputate his right leg.” [1]

There are several reasons why fleshing-eating bacteria have proliferated throughout the Gulf of Mexico (GOM). First and foremost is the vast amount of pollution carried down the Mississippi River and into the Gulf.

“This mighty river and it’s many tributaries carry a tremendous chemical burden in the form of industrial waste, as well as rain runoff laden with every chemical imaginable from suburbia and cityscapes alike. Agribusiness has seen to it that enormous amounts of chemical fertilizers and soil fortifiers, pesticides and insecticides, mosquitocides and larvicides, fungicides and herbicides, weedkillers and defoliants, bovine growth hormones and animal antibiotics end up in the Mississippi.

Likewise, a whole assortment of pharmaceutical drugs, over-the-counter medications, nutraceutical products, as well as all the chemical compounds utilized in the typical American household eventually find their way into the sewers of the nation’s midsection and then eventually into the Mississippi.” [2]

Ever since the BP oil spill, scientists have been concerned that the Loop Current, which has acted as the means by which the waters of the Gulf are regularly moved into the Atlantic’s Gulf Stream ocean current, has not been functioning properly. It’s as though that historic oil spill somehow short-circuited a natural process which had theretofore kept the GOM systematically purged of much of its water pollution.

“Oil & Gas Industry Produces Humongous Amounts Of Pollution In The GOM”

The BP oil spill alerted the whole world to just how much pollution the Oil & Gas Industry produces. Deep water oil drilling is inherently risky no matter how carefully it is performed. In the case of the BP spill, where necessary precautions were simply ignored and prescribed protocols were not executed, it was only a matter of time before a catastrophic oil spill would occur.

The point is that if one gushing well is capable of producing so much hydrocarbon effluent so quickly, imagine how much all the other blown wells have produced … in the aggregate … over many decades.

The Macondo Oil Prospect is only one of many south of the Mississippi River Delta that has seen an inordinate concentration of oil and gas drilling over many years. Each of these huge tracts of seafloor has been scoped out for their oil and gas reserves. Many of them have been the site of multiple drilling operations some of which have been pumped dry.

While many of those wells have since been capped, it is well known that once a well goes bad like the 2010 oil spill, a fractured wellhead can spill oil into the GOM for a long time.

“If the BP Gulf Oil Spill taught us nothing else, it is that oil and gas drilling operations conducted in the GOM 24/7 produce an extraordinary number of predicaments in which severe pollution is produced, and then dispersed to the four corners of the Gulf. Not only is the actual process of drilling a very dirty one, the subsequent transport, refinement and utilization of the oil and gas creates myriad opportunities for pollutants, toxins, contaminants, poisons and chemicals to further pollute the GOM.” [2]


“Not Only Pathogenic Bacteria Like Vibrio, Red Tide Also Proliferates In Polluted GOM”

The GOM has now become a breeding ground for a whole host of illness-causing bacteria, toxic algal blooms like red tide, and other pathogenic micro-organisms. Red tide, in particular, has been making a greater number of appearances along the GOM coastline.

These red tide outbreaks are becoming larger and more widespread with each passing year.  They are also triggering more visits to the local ERs because of the many vacationers and beachgoers who are unaware of their risks.


The Gulf of Mexico is no longer the safe body of water that it used to be. A quick trip to the beach or fishing jaunt to the coast has proven to be a very dangerous experience for swimmers and fisherman alike. The government agencies responsible for alerting the public to those dangers have neglected to do so. Therefore, it appears that those who are informed about the true risks associated with the GOM waters can disseminate the word accordingly.


[1] Huffington Post

[2] StateoftheNation