Lightning Strikes, Flesh Eating Bacteria Threaten Alabama Beach Goers

Sea sunsetThis summer, Alabama doctors are warning residents to take extra precautions when jumping in swimming pools. And on the Fort Morgan peninsula, firefighters are reminding the public to stay out of thunderstorms when visiting the beach. But lightning and swimmer’s ear aren’t the only safety concerns in the Gulf States this summer — Louisiana doctors recently had to cut off a young girl’s leg after she picked up flesh-eating bacteria at the beach.

Over the Independence Day weekend, a 12-year-old girl was left in critical condition after being struck by lightening during a sudden southern thunderstorm. The responding Fort Morgan Volunteer Firefighters performed CPR and successfully revived the girl. Others in her party suffered from shock and temporary hearing loss.

“We didn’t get anybody identified while we were out there,” said Fort Morgan Volunteer Fire Department Chief Glenn Stevens. “It was right in the middle of a lightning storm and our firefighters were at risk going out to get her to bring her in to continue the CPR.”

Stevens said injuries from lightning strikes are becoming routine on Alabama beaches over the summer; his department is warning residents to check the weather and take care to avoid dangerous storms.

“The obvious warning is, ‘Whenever you hear thunder, there’s going to be lightning nearby,’ and you need to get off the beach as soon as possible,” Stevens said.

But even swimming pools can be dangerous, too. Doctors say that if a pool isn’t chlorinated correctly, then dangerous bacteria can infect swimmers, causing “swimmer’s ear” and gastrointestinal sickness. Those illnesses are also becoming routine during the summer, in Alabama and elsewhere.

Dr. Frailie with Greater Mobile Urgent Care says if you experience vomiting or diarrhea after a pool day, then you may have picked up a bug in the water. Plus, young children are particularly prone to ear infections, with 90% of toddlers having an ear infection by age three, and 30% having three or more infections. But in adults and older children, so-called swimmer’s ear is a frequent cause of painful ear infections. Dr. Frailie says Alabama swimmers should take preventative measures after swimming.

“Try to dry out that ear as much as possible and when you get home at night you can put about one part vinegar, one part rubbing alcohol and put about five ml in the ear, let it sit there about five min then let it drain out,” said Dr. Frailie.

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