Monday, April 15, 2024

In The Mag: Bite-sized Research

A St. Mary’s surgeon reaches into the jaws of Florida’s most feared predators for answers to questions that could save lives.

According to research done at the University of Florida, the chances of a human being bitten by a shark are roughly 11.5 million to one. Those odds are slightly less favorable for those of us in the Sunshine State, the undisputed capital of the world in shark bites.

However rare, Dr. Robert Borrego is working to ensure that the chance of surviving a shark attack is no less than 100 percent. The trauma and critical care surgeon at St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach is spearheading studies aimed at determining the types of bacteria that different sharks carry.

According to Borrego, St. Mary’s treats not only Florida’s shark bite victims but also people who have been attacked in Caribbean and Bahamian waters. The fear with many of these patients is that the bites will become infected. Borrego hopes that, through his research, doctors around the world will be able to one day offset potential infection with targeted antibiotics.

“The way that we traditionally treat patients is with broad spectrum antibiotics,”

Borrego says. “It’s like a shotgun approach, where we use the broadest antibiotics and hope that we eliminate the infection. But antibiotics also carry complications and toxicity to patients, so we wanted to know if we could find out what types of antibiotic would be more specific for treating these infections.”

For more from this story, pick up the February issue of Boca Raton. You can also subscribe here.

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