Bacteria Strain
Spores from the Sterne strain of anthrax bacteria (Bacillus anthracis) are pictured in this handout scanning electron micrograph (SEM) obtained by Reuters May 28, 2015. Reuters/Center for Disease Control

Swimmers are being alerted on a marine bacterial infection spread in Sydney Harbour. The potentially harmful marine bacteria have been found in Sydney Harbour and so swimmers must take ample precautions to stay uninfected by the strain. Health experts have found two species of Vibrio bacteria in the warmest and less salty parts of the water in the harbour. The concentrations of the bacteria are quite high.

These strains are different from the Vibria bacteria cholera strain. One related strain is capable of causing gastrointestinal and skin infections especially when exposed to open wounds. The other strain, Vibrio vulnificus, is the more dangerous one as it is responsible for causing 95 percent of all deaths in the US who ate contaminated seafood. However, one of the authors of the University of Technology Sydney study said that people should not panic at this stage, even though this strain causes flesh-eating infections in swimmers. Almost half of those who developed this condition died, writes

“I don’t think people should change the way they use their local beaches, but it is something local management authorities should be aware of,” said Associate Professor Justin Seymour.

Climate change can make things worse, experts agreed, as it can raise temperatures of waters in the country’s southeast part. The bacteria multiply with the rise in temperature of seawater.

The New South Wales Department of Health is wasting no time warning swimmers of possible infections. Swimmers have been advised to keep wounds covered with watertight dressings, not putting water in mouth and avoiding injuries from sharp objects. The department said that people should avoid swimming for at least three days at harbour beaches and during and at least one day after heavy rain at ocean beaches.

Swimmers must also watch out for signs of pollution. Certain parts that have oil, scum, debris and litter floating must be avoided at all costs. Swimming should also be avoided near sewage outfalls and stormwater drains.