Public Health DEPARTMENT

9/12/2020 Press Release

DPH Warns Residents in Shoreline Areas of Illness Caused by Bacteria in Salt or Brackish Water

Unusual Number of Infections Caused by Vibrio Vulnificus Since July Prompts Warning

The Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) is warning residents in shoreline areas about the potential dangers of exposure to salt or brackish water along Long Island Sound, due to an unusually high number of infections caused by bacteria in the water.  Since July, five cases of Vibrio vulnificus infections have been reported to DPH (one infection in July, four in August).  The patients are from Fairfield (1), Middlesex (1), and New Haven (3) counties and are between 49 – 85 years of age (median 73); 4 are male, 1 female. Two patients had septicemia (infection of the bloodstream) and three had serious wound infections. All five cases patients were hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.  All five cases reported exposure to salt or brackish water during activities such as swimming, crabbing, and boating.  All five patients had pre-existing wounds or sustained new wounds during these activities which led to the Vibrio infections. 

“The identification of these five cases over two months is very concerning,” said Dr. Matthew Cartter, State Epidemiologist for DPH. “This suggests the Vibrio bacteria may be present in salt or brackish water in or near Long Island Sound, and people should take precautions.”

Vibrio vulnificus infection is an extremely rare illness. In the past 10 years, between 2010 – 2019, only seven cases were reported in Connecticut. V. vulnificus can cause wound infections when open wounds are exposed to warm salt or brackish water (mix of salt and fresh water). The bacteria, once inside the body, can infect the bloodstream causing septicemia. People with a V. vulnificus infection can get seriously ill and need intensive care or limb amputation. About 1 in 5 people with this type of Vibrio infection die, sometimes within a day or two of becoming ill. People at greatest risk for illness from V. vulnificus are those with weakened immune systems and the elderly.

You can reduce your chance of getting a Vibrio wound infection by following these tips:

  • If you have a wound (including from a recent surgery, piercing, or tattoo), stay out of saltwater or brackish water, if possible. This includes wading at the beach.
  • Cover your wound with a waterproof bandage if it could come into contact with saltwater, brackish water, or raw or undercooked seafood and its juices. This contact can happen during everyday activities, such as swimming, fishing, or walking on the beach. 
  • Wash wounds and cuts thoroughly with soap and water after they have contact with saltwater, brackish water, raw seafood, or its juices. 

For more information on V. vulnificus infections, visit https://www.cdc.gov/vibrio/wounds.html 

COVID-19 in the Town of Westbrook

Total # of COVID-19 Cases Among Westbrook Residents 
(Since the Beginning of the Pandemic)
COVID-19 Associated Deaths Among Westbrook Residents
37
1

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  • For information on the Regional Travel Advisory, Click Here
  • For the latest TESTING information, Click Here
  • For the latest State of Connecticut COVID-19 Guidance, Click Here
  • For the daily COVID-19 data report from the Connecticut Department of Public Health, Click Here
  • For the Phase 2 Reopening Sector Rules, Click Here
  • For the CT Reopening Roadmap from Governor Lamont, Click Here
  • For the Small Business Recovery Guide, Click Here
  • For Governor Lamont’s Executive Orders, Click Here
  • For the latest CDC Guidance, Click Here

⚠️COVID-19 Testing⚠️

For the latest TESTING information, Click Here

⚠️Face Coverings in Connecticut⚠️

Following recommendation from the CDC for everyone to wear cloth face coverings in public settings to reduce the spread of COVID-19, the State of Connecticut issued Executive Order 7NNN directing face coverings to be worn by anyone in public wherever a six-foot distance is unavoidable, including by employees while in the workplace. 

A CDC video explains how to make a face covering. This does not apply to anyone for whom doing so would be contrary to his or her health or safety because of a medical condition. 

Guidance on face coverings has been issued to the state’s businesses.

⚠️CDC Calls on Americans to Wear Masks to Prevent COVID-19 Spread⚠️

See Below or Click Here

  • CDC recommends that people wear masks in public settings and when around people who don’t live in your household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
  • Masks may help prevent people who have COVID-19 from spreading the virus to others.
  • Masks are most likely to reduce the spread of COVID-19 when they are widely used by people in public settings.
  • Masks should NOT be worn by children under the age of 2 or anyone who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
  • Masks with exhalation valves or vents should NOT be worn to help prevent the person wearing the mask from spreading COVID-19 to others (source control).
  • How to Select Masks - Click Here
  • How to Wear Masks - Click Here
  • Considerations for Wearing Masks - Click Here
  • How to Make Masks - Click Here
  • For an instructional video by the United States Surgeon General on How to Make Your Own Mask or Cloth Face Covering - Click Here
  • How to Wash Masks - Click Here

facemask-instructions-01

The simplest way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus.

COVID-19 spreads mainly from person to person through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouth or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads

We continue to ask our residents to follow these guidelines:

  • Implement social distancing by avoiding close contact with others and maintaining at least 6 feet of physical separation
  • If you must go out into public settings, such as grocery stores or pharmacies, per Governor Lamont's Executive Order, you must wear a mask or cloth face covering, as it may be difficult to achieve social distancing in these environments.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily, such as doorknobs, countertops, light switches, keyboards, toilets, and telephones
  • Adhere to Governor Lamont’s Executive Orders, which can be viewed on the Governor’s website: Click Here
  • If you’re experiencing COVID-19 related symptoms, such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath, contact your health care provider first before going to their place of work
  • Maintain healthy practices, such as consuming nutritional food and doing in-home exercises
  • Monitor the Westbrook Health Department website for COVID-19 updates

The Town of Westbrook Health Department would like to emphasize the importance of social distancing and mask wearing. Since COVID-19 is spread mainly from person to person through respiratory droplets, social distancing and mask wearing are the number one non-pharmaceutical interventions we can all practice at this time. This will require a community effort.

Is your child or teen feeling stressed about COVID-19? 

There are many things you can do to support your child during this time:

  • Take time to talk with them about COVID-19.
  • Reassure your child and that it‘s normal to be upset.
  • Reassure your child that they are safe.
  • Try to keep up with a regular routine, including sleep and structured learning.
  • Connect with friends and family through phone, text, or email.
    To view more tips on how to support your child or teen, Click Here

Do you know of a Senior that requires help getting food and/or other basic necessities?

Please contact the Westbrook Senior Center: Phone: 860-399-2029 Email: CBurks@WestbrookCT.us

Westbrook Senior Center Website

Do you have friends or family who need COVID-19 information in a different language? 

CDC’s COVID-19 website has options in Spanish, simplified Chinese, Vietnamese, and Korean. Be sure to click the other language tabs near the top of the page here: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus92358947_10157807760121026_4240802587256815616_o Opens in new window

Do you or someone you know communicate using American Sign Language (ASL) ?

Visit CDC’s YouTube channel to watch ASL videos on Social Distancing, Doing Your Part to Slow the Spread, Managing Stress and Anxiety, and more.
Click Here

For more information on COVID-19, please visit the following websites:

  • Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) website, Click Here
  • State of Connecticut Coronavirus website, Click Here
  • Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on the State of CT’s Actions Related to COVID-19, Click Here
  • Cases of COVID-19 in Connecticut by Town, Click Here
  • Travel Advisories from the US Department of State, Click Here
  • Food Programs & Services, Click Here and/or Here
  • Stress & Coping, Click Here
  • Pregnancy & Breastfeeding FAQs, Click Here

Message Regarding Health Department Services

During this current COVID-19 Pandemic, the Westbrook Health Department is continuing essential services, such as reviewing applications for septic system installations and inspections, soil testing, B100a, private wells, food service inspections, complaint investigations, and more. If needed, please contact the Health Department to discuss submitting an application, a pending application, inspections, or any concerns related to COVID-19.

Zachary Faiella, MPH, RS, Director of Health

Phone: 860-399-9869

Email: ZFaiella@WestbrookCT.us

Lee Archer, RS

Phone: 860-399-3018

Email: LArcher@WestbrookCT.us

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aBOUT US

The Town of Westbrook Health Department is a full time, local public health department, providing essential services to Westbrook residents, visitors, businesses, and the environment.  

The Town of Westbrook Health Department works closely with the CT Department of Public Health to enforce the CT Public Health Code.

What we do: Enforce the CT Public Health Code, Public health education, Community outreach, Food establishment inspections, Septic system reviews and inspections, Daycare inspections, Salon and barbershop inspections, Private well review and approvals, Environmental investigations, Complaints, and more!

For more information, or to say hello, visit us at the Teresa Mulvey Municipal Building, located at 866 Boston Post Road, Westbrook, CT 06498.

Prevent, Promote, Protect.