It sounds like something out of a B-grade horror movie, but according to a new study published in the Frontiers of Microbiology, flesh-eating bacteria is present in our waters - and its numbers are on the rise. Researchers from the University of Technology Sydney detected two strains of threatening Vibrio bacteria in high concentrations in Sydney Harbour, particularly around Rozelle, Olympic Park and Parramatta Park.
Responsible for more deaths than sharks worldwide, Vibrio is a dangerous water-borne bacteria which can cause serious illness in humans, both via eating contaminated seafood or contracting flesh-eating infections by swimming with open cuts or wounds. Nasty. And the really bad news is, the scientists behind the study predict further outbreaks as water temperatures rise.
"Given that these are naturally occurring marine organisms, it's not surprising that we're seeing them," UTS associate professor and co-author of the study, Justin Seymour told smh.com.au. "People don't need to be super alarmed about their occurrence in Sydney Harbour at the moment. I don't think people should change the way they use their local beaches, but it is something local management authorities should be aware of. There are potentially harmful effects for humans if outbreaks of these bacteria in the environment become more severe and common."
Suddenly, Balmoral and Redleaf don't seem quite so appealing.