Two Tel Aviv residents were rushed to Ichilov’s emergency room earlier this week after a swim in one the city’s beaches left them with a serious infection in their legs and bloodstreams – which tests later revealed was caused by a type of bacteria found on fish scales. The swimmers claim they were bitten by the fish and consequentially infected.
The incident occurred on Monday, when a 57-year-old male resident of the city was brought to the emergency room after suffering for three days, from a high fever, shivers, and intense pain in his left leg. He explained that he had been at the beach in Tel Aviv, and went in for a swim. Suddenly he felt a bite, and noticed a fish near his leg. He walked out of the water, and noticed a sharp pain, and that his leg had become red and swollen.
In another, unconnected case, a 70-year-old woman had also been evacuated to the ER after going for a swim in the sea. She also described having felt a bite on her leg, and noticing a fish swimming away from her. Tests were conducted on the two, who had never met, and were incidentally hospitalized with the same story that, that had taken place on the same day, showed that they were suffering from a severe infection in their legs – which had entered their blood stream. The two were hospitalized in the internal medicine ward, and were receiving intravenous antibiotics.
The bacterium causes a Phenomenon known as Vibrio vulnificus, which is found in clams and the scales of many fish. It enters the body through open wounds, or through a puncture caused by the fish scale, and seeps into the blood stream – causing widespread infection and organ failure. About 50% of infected patients die within two days.
According to the expert’s estimates, the bacteria entered the swimmers bodies through open wounds on their feet. “It’s very rare to have fish bite people in the Mediterranean,” Dr. Dani Golani, a biologist and fish researcher at the Hebrew University told ynet. “Most Vibrio vulnificus infections are caused by incautious cleaning of fish,” he added.