Fishermen and others who work aboard ships often overlook minor lacerations and abrasions. With so much work to do, they also put off cleaning minor wounds until completing their current task.
Most of the time, a simple cut or scrape is no cause for concern. However, there are many ways that minor wounds can become infected in maritime occupations.
Dangers of septic wounds
Infection is a serious health risk for those working in remote or isolated areas. The ocean or even a large lake qualifies as remote and isolated in terms of illnesses and injuries. Often, septic wounds on the water turn into severe medical conditions due to waterborne organisms. Some examples of these organisms or microbes include:
- Chromobacterium violaceum contamination can result in localized or systemic infections, and even necrotizing fasciitis (flesh-eating disease)
- Edwardsiella tarda bacterium often leads to gastro and extraintestinal infections and is sometimes fatal
- Aeromonas spp wound contamination can result in soft tissue and sometimes-severe skin infections
- Mycobacterium marinum infects both fresh and saltwater fish and can pass to humans through contact with open wounds
- Burkholderia pseudomallei bacterium exists in water and soil and can lead to melioidosis, a life-threatening and antibiotic-resistant condition
Take care of yourself when working on the water. Tend to even minor wounds promptly to avoid severe or life-threatening infections. Steps to take immediately after suffering cuts or scrapes include:
- Control your bleeding
- Meticulously cleanse the wound with clean water
- Apply pressure to encourage the removal of foreign bodies
- Irrigate with an antiseptic like povidone-iodine (add 1% to clean water)
- At any sign of infection (redness, swelling, etc.), seek antibiotic treatment
If you develop a dangerous infection that requires significant medical care, remember that you can seek a cure under Florida maritime law.