By Brian Sherman, The Island Connection Managing Editor
You can get vibrio vulnificus from eating raw or undercooked oysters and other seafood, but the possibly life-threatening infection also can enter your body through an open wound. A Seabrook Island resident is intent on reminding his neighbors that this condition might be somewhat of a problem right here in the Lowcountry.
Steve Redman said his wife, Robin, contracted vibrio vulnificus in late May and she still is unable to walk. He said at one point her life was in danger, and doctors discussed the possibility that her leg would have to be amputated at the knee.
Robin Redman’s potential brush with death began innocently enough, when the couple decided to avoid the crowds as much as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic and get in their beach time at Camp St. Christopher on Seabrook Island. After watching a dolphin and her baby feeding for a while, they decided to go in for a swim. When they stepped into the shallow water, they sunk into the pluff mud up to their knees, and, as they tried to work their way out of the muck, Robin fell and suffered a gash on her shin.
The wound was cleaned by a beach guard, but the Redmans chose not to seek help from a medical professional.
By 5:30 a.m. the next day, Robin, 65 and with a compromised immune system before the episode at Camp St. Christopher, was unable to walk and was having trouble breathing.
After a week in one hospital and two weeks in another, she returned home, but though the wound is almost healed, Robin still can’t walk.
“I don’t want to scare people, but I want them to understand,” Steve said.
“Kids play in that mud all the time. All kinds of stuff lives in it. It was pretty scary.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, vibrio vulnificus has the potential be life-threatening.
Many people who contract the infection require intensive care or lose a limb, and about 1 in 5 die, sometimes within a day or two of becoming ill. The CDC pointed out that severe complications can result if a person has liver disease, cancer, diabetes, HIV or thalassemia; receives immune-suppressing therapy for the treatment of disease; takes medicine to decrease levels of stomach acid; or has had recent stomach surgery.