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Plastic provides perfect conditions for flesh-eating bacteria in Florida: study

sargassum seaweed

Florida: Scientists have found a potentially dangerous flesh-eating bacteria in a stretch of seaweed across the Atlantic Ocean toward Florida.

The 5,000-mile wide clump of seaweed - stretched from the Gulf of Mexico to the African coast - is made up of sargassum seaweed and it has been the largest bloom yet. This has become a breeding ground for omnivorous strains of bacteria.

According to the researchers, these bacteria are dangerous to both plant and animal life because they can cause brutal infections. It can infect humans via contaminated seafood or open wounds. This makes coming in contact with seawater very dangerous.

However, experts think the Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt is dangerous to marine life and public health because it interacts with plastic debris found in the ocean. The Vibrio bacteria species when attached to plastic particles creates the "perfect pathogen storm," reported Newsweek.

Tracy Mincer of FAU's Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute said that plastic is a new element to marine environments and it has only been around for about 50 years. "Our lab work showed that these Vibrio are extremely aggressive and can seek out and stick to plastic within minutes. We also found that there are attachment factors that microbes use to stick to plastics, and it is the same kind of mechanism that pathogens use."

"If you handle this seaweed, it's a good idea to wash your hands. And if you're going to be doing a lot of it, wear gloves, and if you have an open cut or something, stay away from it. Caution should be exercised regarding the harvest and processing of Sargassum biomass until the risks are explored more thoroughly," he added.

People with weak immune systems and chronic liver disease are particularly at risk.

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TAGS:flesh eating bacteriasargassum seaweedsargassum seaweed beltGreat Atlantic Sargassum Belt
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