CBF's Will Baker Discusses EPA Plan on Public Radio
260 Million Gallons of Manure Vs. Community's Drinking Water

Waterman Loses Leg to Life-Threatening Bacteria

Vibrioonleg A waterman in Virginia recently had his leg amputated because of an infection from Vibrio,  waterborne bacteria that tend to multiply in warmer, polluted waters.

The tragedy is a sobering reminder that reducing water pollution in the Chesapeake Bay is critically important for public health reasons, not just to help fish and crabs.

Harry “Long John” Studds was catching eels in the Potomac River, Mattox Creek and Monroe Bay on Aug. 19 when his leg got infected after he waded into the water in shorts, according to a report in the Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star.

A raging infection that he is certain came from the water caused doctors to amputate his leg to save his life, the paper reported.  "They took the whole leg. They wanted to make sure they got all of the infection to keep it from spreading to my heart," Studds said.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation published a report in July called “Bad Water 2009: The Impact on Human Health in the Chesapeake Bay Region” that showed a more than doubling in reported Vibrio infections over the last decade, from 12 in 1999 to 30 in 2008, according to Virginia Department of Health statistics. 

Dr. Rita Colwell, a researcher at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, said in the report that these infections are a reminder that we need to do more to prevent nutrient pollution and global warming, both of seem to be playing a role in the rise of infections in Virginia.

“It tells us we ought to be paying attention to these changes,” Colwell said in the report, speaking of warming waters and more nutrient pollution.

The photo above is a scar on the leg of another Virginia waterman, Mark Allen, who barely survived a Vibrio infection. 

“My leg had got so hot, it started to blister and turn black, all the way from my knee to the top of my foot,” Allen, of Hague, Va., recalled of his illness.

“At one point, they were almost coming to the point of amputation above the knee, is how bad the infection had blown out of proportion," Hague said, while sitting on his couch and showing the deep scar on his leg. 

Allen recovered from his infection after a four-month battle, although he went bankrupt from his medical bills and still has a limp. He said he never remembers his father, grandfather or great-grandfather – all watermen like him – talking about bacteria like this.

“Everything’s changed," Allen said. “I remember as a kid, when we used to oyster, the water was so clear, that you could see the bottom 12 feet deep. Now, it’s just a murky, muddy mess.”


 


 

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Lets all work together with doing this simple things no more chemicals on farms and lawns (go organic and don't over use it) proper maintenance on your car. We all can do this.

power to the people!!

Not surprised...these new pathogens make their way to the Chesapeake Bay when international ships dump untreated sewer and bilge water into the Bay. International ships are not required to pre-treat non-portable discharges.

MAPO addressed that in 1972 and corrected the ship discharge issue.
Ships also practice ballast exchange at sea.
MAPO was swift in accomplishments.

Bacteria/algae blooms in the water also correlate to high rates ALS/Lou Gehrig Disease. http://www.boston.com/business/healthcare/articles/2009/09/14/nh_researchers_see_toxin_found_in_pond_scum_as_possible_cause_of_als/
4 hours ago

CBF should investigate the "ship discharge issue" of 1972,,,,, not just a ground/farm runoff issue. The Coast Guard turns it head on this?

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)