Bacteria in the waters of the Chesapeake Bay is a problem we’ve grown used to, and today there are new warnings out. According to the Baltimore Sun, so far there have been 24 reported cases of the Vibro bacteria causing gastrointestinal illness and/or skin infections this summer. In an average season about 30 cases are reported, but since there are several more weeks of summer ahead, it looks like the 2010 season could be worse than the norm.

The culprate? Along with the usual suspects (over-nutrification, high nitrogen and phosphorus levels, and low oxygen levels), water quality in the Chesapeake Bay tends to decline as temperatures go up. And as anyone in the region knows, it’s been hotter then heck all summer long.

Scientists say that as long as temperatures and pollution levels stay high, we can expect increasing cases of Vibro. Does that mean you shouldn’t let bay water touch your skin? Heck no. Health officials recommend against bathing in the bay waters if you have any open wounds, and of course, don’t drink the water.

The bright side to this sad story? At least we’re not seeing another big (human) outbreak of  myco, the bacteria that currently infects a huge proportion of Chesapeake stripers. A few years back several people contracted the illness, sometimes called “fish handler’s disease,” including two friends of mine. The resulting infections were extremely nasty. Well, maybe calling this a “bright side” is a bit of a stretch…

bacteria chesapeake bay striped bass infections

Many stripers in the Chesapeake Bay are infected with the Myco bacteria, and lately Vibro has been a problem for people.