Designing a town built to withstand hurricanes, avoiding brain-eating amoebas

Solutions journalism aims to find real answers to today’s problems

ORLANDO, Fla. – The hot weather brings the potential for hurricanes and dangerous swimming conditions.

In fact, warm ocean water doesn’t just fuel hurricanes — it also creates the right conditions for deadly microscopic creatures called Vibrio Vulnificus.

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It’s a rare species of flesh-eating bacteria that thrives in shallow warm coastal waters or contaminated shellfish.

According to the Florida Department of Health, seven people have died from Vibrio vulnificus so far in 2023.

In freshwater, a different rare microscopic killer is lurking in our lakes, ponds and rivers. It’s commonly known as brain-eating amoeba and only a handful of people have ever survived its infection.

Solutionaries correspondent Erik Sandoval introduces us to one of those survivors and learns about the only drug known to cure it.

Tips For Avoiding Bacteria and Amoeba

Summertime is primetime for these warm water amoebas and bacteria, so let’s look at the basic things you and your family can do to avoid getting infected.

  1. Water and wounds do not mix. Florida Health officials said if you have fresh cuts or scrapes do not get in the water. They suggest wearing shoes to prevent cuts from rocks or shells.
  2. Avoid warm freshwater when the weather has been hot with very little rain.
  3. If you do get in the water, hold your nose or use nose clips before jumping in. People who have a weakened immune system need to be especially careful.

‘Hurricane-Proof’ Town

Hurricane Ian is the third-costliest cyclone to ever hit the United States with damage estimates close to $113 billion dollars.

It hit Florida with deadly winds, storm surge and flooding.

FILE - The bridge leading from Fort Myers to Pine Island, Fla., is heavily damaged in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian on Pine Island, Fla., Oct. 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File) (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Many people with homes in Fort Myers and Sanibel Island were forced to start over, but one nearby town did particularly well.

Residents of Babcock Ranch weathered the storm with electricity, running water — even TV and internet.

Solutionaries correspondent Vic Micolucci traveled to Southwest Florida to explore this so-called “hurricane-proof” community.

Read more here.

A new episode of Solutionaries is available every Tuesday on News 6 and on News 6+ for your smart TV (Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV, Google TV).

About the Author:

Katrina Scales is a producer for the News 6+ Takeover at 5:30 p.m. She also writes and voices the podcast Your Florida Daily. Katrina was born and raised in Brevard County and started her journalism career in radio before joining News 6 in June 2021.