Inland Bays Recreational Water Advisory

The Inland Bays are under a 24/7 Swim advisory

(August 26, 2021) … This is not to panic anyone, just to make you wary of information we feel you need to know this time of year. It is better to be informed to know what to do than not. In case you have to deal with any type of water borne infection or a cut from a fish or aquatic critter.

Many do not know this, but the inland bays, per DNREC, have a 24/7 swim advisory. The summer is when this advisory should be heeded the most. Do not go into the water for long periods of time if you have open wounds or a compromised immune system. Covering the cuts with Vaseline and a bandage is highly recommended. I prefer to just not go in the water in those cases.
Yes, that means everyone hanging out at the sandbars all summer should be wary to a degree. Those areas usually have higher water flow, and are less of a problem.
The real issue is shallow, stagnant or low flow waters during the low into slack tides that heats up quickly in the summer. The stagnant pools that form up as well in some areas at dead low tide. Vibrio vulnificus and other bacterium explodes in growth and can infect open wounds and old cuts (scabs).

A few years ago a man nicked his finger on a crab trap he was collecting in the Assawoman bay. Vibrio vulnificus infected his wound and he died in a day. He was perfectly healthy.
In September 2015 a gentlemen in OCMD, died after cleaning a fish from a small filet knife wound.
Cases like these rarely make the main media. However these cases’ frequency seem to increase every year, you just don’t hear much about them.
There should be more warnings put out by DNREC about vibrio vulnificus. A friend of mine’s wife, a chef, was nicked by a fish’s fin bone, cleaning it in a restaurant in DC, The Smallest Fish Wounds Can Be Deadly. I have a few friends that have had cuts and issues but they weren’t as serious. These incidents did make them more cautious about handling catches and being prepared just in case.
Despite all of this as long as you keep your shellfish cool they are fine to consume. The oyster farms are fine too, these are in high flush zones partly for this reason.

“My friend’s grandfather was gutting a trigger fish in OCMD and cut his finger. He went to the hospital, was given an oral antibiotic and discharged. Overnight he developed a high fever and his hand looks like this now. They are admitting him and infectious disease specialists are on their way to examine him. They are pumping him with two different types of antibiotics and will be operating later today. They are going to peel back his skin and “scrape it off” from underneath. It has spread to his shoulder so now they are transferring him to an ICU. His kidneys have shut down and his heart is starting to go. They operated on his arm and the muscle had already started to deteriorate and they couldn’t stop it from spreading despite the fact he had an IV of cipro. He was 78, but healthy, no diabetes or anything. The worst part about this is he went right away to the hospital and it still got him.”
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It is best to be wary of these issues than not. Shower or bathe after swimming in the inland bays. Especially after wading or swimming in low water areas along the shore line communities of the Inland Bays.
We carry bleach solutions with us on the boats and the surf fishing vehicles. A mixed solution of 20 to 30% bleach works fine to immediately treat a wound. This is also good for fish “stabbings” from fins or skate and ray tails. Then got to the hospital.
The surf clams anglers use for drum bait are really bad for bacteria. We clean our hands with a bleach solution after handling these preparing them for bait. Most of these clams are collected in areas that are marked not for human consumption.

If you are injured handling or cleaning a fish it is a recommended to immediately seek medical attention.  You certainly need to treat it right away with antibiotics and topical cremes.  If you have a serious case find an infectious disease specialist immediately.  In most fish poisoning cases there is only a small infection, but that depends on the fish you are handling and the bacteria involved. Triggerfish for example are tropical and many other warm water fish have all kinds of bacteria on their slime coats. Of course there are people who clean fish daily by the hundreds that never have these problems. But it happens and is good to be aware.

Learn More About Vibrio Bacteria and Vibrio Illness (Vibriosis) in Delaware …

DNREC Information About Vibrio Bacteria

Delaware Department of Health and Social Services fact sheet on Vibriosis

Centers for Disease Control Vibriosis Page

NOAA Vibrio Guidance

NOAA Shellfish Guidance for the Delaware Bay

Recreational Water Quality Alerts on the Delaware Open Data Portal


Inland Bays Water Quality

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