Taking Action: Debunking rumors circulating about flesh-eating bacteria in the Flint River

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MADISON COUNTY, Ala. - Typically a place of serenity, the Flint River meanders about through Tennessee to its watershed in Huntsville. It is normally the perfect spot to go for a kayak ride, but lately we've received countless calls and emails about a rumor circulating on social media about a flesh-eating bacteria lingering in the water.

Vibrio is the bacteria that's been reported in Mobile, but local officials are debunking the rumor of it here.

Dr. Scott Harris with the area Department of Public Health says, that just isn't so. "We don`t have any knowledge or evidence that there is anything like that in the Flint River."

Dr. Harris added that the term is actually pretty broad. "The term flesh-eating bacteria is a little bit of a misnomer. There's really not one bacteria that we call that," he explained.

In-fact, it's just a dramatic term for a skin infection. Something Dr. Harris says you can get from multiple illnesses or places and,  of course, water.

"Anybody that has a wound that goes into any body of water is going to have some risk of infection." Dr. Harris says you're at a higher risk for an infection if you suffer from kidney disease.

That goes for any body of water.

But here's the deal, the rumor that there's a "flesh-eating bacteria" floating around in the Flint River, just isn't so.

Dr. Harris says they determine if there is a risk based on reports from local doctors and hospitals who have seen individuals with the infection. The department has not received any reports of Vibrio in North Alabama.