(The State) – As Billy Bailey picked through the crabs he caught on Big Bay Creek, trying to determine which to keep and which to throwback, one of them clamped down on his hand, causing him to shake his fingers.
The small cut that opened from the claw’s pinch reminded Bailey to be more careful the next time he went crabbing. Then he chuckled and forgot about it, sitting back in the boat while his fishing buddy maneuvered the craft to the dock that day in early October 2017.
Hours later, Bailey was shivering and sick, buried under a pile of blankets that couldn’t keep him warm, say friends who were with him. By dawn the next day, Bailey’s stomach was upset and he couldn’t walk. His worried friends rushed him to the doctor. On Oct. 13, 2017, Bailey died in the hospital, the victim of a microbe so dangerous it can inflict horrific pain, trigger ghastly skin infections, and kill in a matter of days.
It’s called vibrio, a bacteria that research shows is sickening more people and being found more often in rivers, creeks, and sounds along the Carolina coast. People who get toxic vibrio infections from swimming or handling fish, crabs, and shrimp sometimes watch helplessly as toxins eat away at their flesh, turning small sores into gaping wounds.
The earth’s warming climate, which is causing sea levels to rise and storm surges to intensify, is a major reason dangerous strains of vibrio are an increasing threat to people who swim, fish, and work in coastal waters across the planet, scientists say. READ MORE