Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks was the hand on the American Beauty film poster

Christina Hendricks may have gotten her big break in Mad Men but she had already sort of starred in blockbuster American Beauty way before.

The 44-year-old actress, who played Joan Holloway for eight years, revealed the surprising start to her Hollywood career was as a a hand model.

She shared the 'fun fact' after recently joining Instagram explaining that it was her hand used in the famous poster where it shows a hand – we now know is Christina's – holding a rose on a woman's stomach.

For 20 years most fans of the iconic movie assumed that the hand belonged to lead actress Mena Suvari, with the revelation leaving other Hollywood stars' minds blown.


Christina lifted the lid writing: "Fun fact…. wait for it…I used to be a model and sometimes a hand model…. this is my hand and another model’s stomach….proud to be a part if this film in ANY WAY!!!

Her Mad Men co-star January Jones wrote under her post: "This is important. How come I didn't know this?"

Alison Brie, who also starred in the TV series with Christina, simply wrote: "WHOA."

Comedian Whitney Cummings added along with an emoji: "This is blowing my mind."


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Aldous Harding and Marlon Williams are superb at Supersense

Aldous Harding

The Playhouse, Arts Centre Melbourne

Marlon Williams

Concert Hall, Arts Centre Melbourne

★★★★½

Friday August 23

Marlon Williams played the Concert Hall just hours before fellow Kiwi – and ex girlfriend – Aldous Harding appeared next door at the State Theatre, as part of the Supersense Festival at Arts Centre Melbourne.

In some ways their shows could not have been more different – Williams was backed by his band the Yarra Benders as well as the Impossible Orchestra, led by Brett Kelly, while Harding carved out an intimate space on stage with her four piece band.

Aldous Harding performing at British Summertime in the UK this year.Credit:EMPICS Entertainment

Resplendent in a navy tux, white shirt and bow tie, Williams played guitar and piano, admired the audience (“You’re all very lovely – I don’t know what I was expecting”), danced and prowled around the stage and, at one point, sat and gazed at the orchestra on stage behind him, savouring the sound and the moment.

Initially at least, Harding was far more restrained. Sitting cross-legged, knees high, she was intense and often seemed transported, eyes rolling back in her head or resting her chin on the guitar while performing. Supersense’s name – Festival of the Ecstatic – seemed apt, with the artist in full flight mirroring someone completely lost in the music. Bringing her unique, exquisite vocals to the night, it mattered not that she engaged minimally – the crowd lapped up every minute.

As the show progressed, she loosened up, playing keyboards, then standing and moving around the mike with her trademark dancer’s grace, speaking only occasionally. Taking the mickey out of herself at one point, she cracked a gag and said “This is the funniest I’ve been all tour”. Dressed in an orange jacket with matching wide-legged pants, a hat and runners, she gave a brilliant, most unusual, captivating performance.

Marlon Williams at the Forum last year. Credit:David Harris

Both write nearly all their own material, play a range of instruments and have voices of angels. Williams’ range extends from a Johnny Cash growl – most evident in the rollicking show-stealer Party Boy – to a falsetto that evokes Orbison, with a little Lennon-esque ballad in between. On this night, it extended to an operatic aria as an encore. “Ever since I was a child, I’ve always wanted to sing opera so indulge me, this is the only chance I’ll get,” he asked, before launching in to the haunting Je Crois Entendre from Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers. Harding plays with her vocals according to the track – comparisons to Bjork and Joanna Newsome resonate on occasion, yet she is very much her own artist. Much of her excellent latest album Designer makes up the playlist; Zoo Eyes and Heaven is Empty are highlights.

Exemplary performances were provided by both bands, as well as the Impossible Orchestra, which is made up of current and past members of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and the Australian Chamber Orchestra; Brett Kelly is one of the country’s best conductors.

At one point, Williams asked if anyone was “extremely efficient with their time” and heading across to see Harding’s show – many in the audience were. He dedicated Nobody Gets What They Want to his ex – who he cajoled in to singing it as a duet with him on the album – adding poignancy to performance, which then segued beautifully into the album’s title track, Make Way For Love.

More power to these New Zealand stars in the making; both were super in every sense.

Aldous Harding performs at Arts Centre Melbourne on Sunday night. The show is sold out.

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Taylor Swift Surprises Fans at ‘Lover’ Mural in NYC

Taylor Swift celebrated her Lover release with some special people!

The 29-year-old superstar met with fans by one of her Lover murals on Friday afternoon (August 23) in Brooklyn, New York.

PHOTOS: Check out the latest pics of Taylor Swift

Taylor took the time to meet and take photos with the fans, who had gathered at the Spotify murals to commemorate the Lover album release.

She took to her Instagram to share a photo in front of the mural, which featured lyrics from her song “Cruel Summer.”

“Had to go see the mural in person and it turns out she’s GLORIOUS. Thank you @spotify, it’s been an honor revealing new lyrics with you all week 🥰,” Taylor wrote.

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Everyone's A Combination Of Two Popular TV Show Characters — Here's Yours

  • BabysittingRobert Collins on Unsplash
  • With my familyRustic Vegan on Unsplash
  • Meeting new people at a barEaters Collective on Unsplash
  • Having a meal with friendsLee Myungseong on Unsplash
  • At home studyingNicole Honeywill on Unsplash
  • Planning a revenge prankElti Meshau on Unsplash
  • Getting a drink with coworkersMichael Discenza on Unsplash
  • Pigging out and watching TVJESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash
  • Seeing a movieJake Hills on Unsplash
  • Mulan from MulanDisney
  • Vanelope from Wreck-It-RalphDisney
  • Ariel from The Little Mermaid Disney
  • Anna from FrozenDisney
  • Merida from BraveDisney
  • Tiana from The Princess and the FrogDisney
  • Rapunzel from TangledDisney
  • Cinderella from CinderellaDisney
  • Belle from Beauty and the BeastDisney
  • Spider-Man: Far From HomeMarvel Studios
  • Toy Story 4Disney/Pixar
  • Captain MarvelMarvel Studios
  • Five Feet ApartCBS Films
  • Shazam!DC Films
  • RocketmanRocket Pictures/Marv Films
  • YesterdayWorking Title Films
  • UsMonkeypaw/Blumhouse Productions
  • Avengers: EndgameMarvel Studios
  • “Senorita” by Shawn Mendes and Camila CabelloIsland
  • “Bad Guy” by Billie EilishInterscope
  • “Talk” by KhalidRCA
  • “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X ft. Billy Ray CyrusColumbia
  • “Sunflower” by Post Malone and Swae LeeRepublic Records
  • “Hey Look Ma, I Made It” by Panic! at the DiscoFueled by Ramen
  • “I Don’t Care” by Ed Sheeran ft. Justin BieberAtlantic Records
  • “You Need to Calm Down” by Taylor SwiftRepublic/Taylor Swift Productions
  • “Sucker” by the Jonas BrothersRepublic Records
  • A cheetahRodrigo Ardilha on Unsplash
  • A dogBerkay Gumustekin on Unsplash
  • A unicornJames Lee on Unsplash
  • A catErik-Jan Leusink on Unsplash
  • A monkeyTj Kolesnik on Unsplash
  • A dolphinFabrizio Frigeni on Unsplash
  • A bearThomas Bonometti on Unsplash
  • A lionZoë Reeve on Unsplash
  • A dragonMateus Campos Felipe on Unsplash
  • A big cityjonathan riley on Unsplash
  • A cabin in the woodsMikel Ibarluzea on Unsplash
  • Cliff diving on a beachDrew Farwell on Unsplash
  • CampingJosh Hild on Unsplash
  • A family road tripDino Reichmuth on Unsplash
  • A far away countryCarlos Ibáñez on Unsplash
  • Stay at homeBrina Blum on Unsplash
  • Rock climbing in the mountainsJonathan Ouimet on Unsplash
  • Deadpool20th Century Fox
  • Black WidowMarvel Studios
  • Iron ManMarvel Studios
  • Black PantherMarvel Studios
  • Spider-ManMarvel Studios
  • Captain MarvelMarvel Studios
  • ThorMarvel Studios
  • The HulkMarvel Studios
  • Captain AmericaMarvel Studios

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'The Mandalorian' Trailer Teases Lucasfilm's First Live-Action 'Star Wars' Series [D23]

The first live-action Star Wars series is coming to Disney+ this fall, and thanks to the arrival of The D23 Expo, fans everywhere can finally see what Lucasfilm has to offer with The Mandalorian.

Created by Jon Favreau, director of Iron Man, the new Star Wars series focuses on Pedro Pascal as a Mandalorian bounty hunter whose reputation is so well known that he’s only referred to by his titular moniker. Taking us into the seedier side of the Star Wars universe, we watch as this lone gunfighter deals with the remnants of the Empire, some dangerous fellow bounty hunters, and a dangerous mission. Check out The Mandalorian trailer below for a taste of this epic new series.

The Mandalorian Trailer

“Do these people not look like they belong in the Star Wars universe?” Favreau said as cast members like Pedro Pascal, Gina Carano, Carl Weathers, and Giancarlo Esposito joined him on the D23 stage.

During the presentation, we learned that showrunner Jon Favreau pitched Lucasfilm’s Kathleen Kennedy a story that took place after the revolution, when the galaxy degraded into chaos. The Empire has been overthrown, there’s no replacement government in place yet, and chaos reigns across the galaxy. Interestingly, they pitched it as a show that people who never seen Star Wars before could watch, but also one that will reward longtime fans of the franchise.

Here are some images we snagged from the convention center floor:







Here’s the official description of The Mandalorian:

After the stories of Jango and Boba Fett, another warrior emerges in the Star Wars universe. The Mandalorian is set after the fall of the Empire and before the emergence of the First Order. We follow the travails of a lone gunfighter in the outer reaches of the galaxy far from the authority of the New Republic.

The Mandalorian stars Pedro PascalGina CaranoNick Nolte, Giancarlo EspositoEmily SwallowCarl WeathersOmid AbtahiWerner Herzog, and Taika Waititi, and the first season of episodes will be directed by filmmakers like Dave FiloniTaika WaititiBryce Dallas HowardRick Famuyiwa, and Deborah Chow.

The Mandalorian begins streaming on Disney+ on November 12, 2019.

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Hilary Duff Is Bringing ‘Lizzie McGuire’ Back For A Sequel Series — This Is Not A Drill

It’s time to dust off those butterfly clips and break out the bellbottom jeans, because Lizzie McGuire is officially coming back. Hilary Duff herself appeared at the D23 Expo to announce a Lizzie McGuire revival is coming to Disney+, with original creator Terri Minsky. Deadline broke the news on Friday, Aug. 23, just minutes before Duff took to the stage at the Disney convention to confirm that she would be reprising the role that made her a household name.

The new Lizzie McGuire revival, or sequel series, will follow Lizzie’s life as a 30-year-old living in New York City. But just because she’s all grown up doesn’t mean fans still can’t expect animated Lizzie — the beloved manifestation of her inner thoughts in the original — to make an appearance. Per Deadline, instead of being 30, animated Lizzie will still be her young, 13-year-old self, so expect plenty of snark and the return of those platform flip flops. "I am beyond excited," Duff said in a message posted to her Instagram story after the news broke. "I really missed her, and I think now is a great time for her to come back in her 30s." The actor also shared the news in an Instagram post, writing, "SURPRISE!!! I’ve been trying to contain this excitement for a loooong time while this has been in the works! I am beyond excited to be home again, back with my girl ♥️…and into her 30’s." And, hey now, of course she used the hashtag "#thisiswhatdreamsaremadeof."

It’s unclear whether any other original cast members will be returning for the new series, but Duff did reveal a few details about the Lizzie McGuire revival. "Lizzie has grown up, she’s older, she’s wiser, she has a much bigger shoe budget," she told the crowd at D23, per Variety. "She has her dream job, the perfect life right now working as an apprentice to a fancy New York City decorator." Lizzie did always have impeccable style. Duff added that since her high school days, Lizzie has found "the perfect man, who owns a cool SoHo restaurant. She has her dream apartment in Brooklyn, and she’s getting ready to celebrate her thirtieth birthday." Quick, someone go back and check if Gordo was a chef in middle school!

There’s no word yet on wether any other cast members will be returning for the series. Gordo, of course, was Lizzie McGuire’s best friend-turned-boyfriend, and was played by Adam Lamberg. The series also starred Lalaine as Lizzie’s BFF Miranda, Jake Thomas as her younger brother Matt, Hallie Todd as her mother, and Robert Carradine as her dad. Some members of the cast, like Thomas and Todd, have been known to reunite — and delight fans on social media in the process — so, it’s possible they’d be interested in returning to their beloved characters.

For now, fans can take heart in the news that their favorite Disney Channel show is coming back. And if that’s not "what dreams are made of," then really, what is?

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D23 Expo 2019 Schedule, Biggest Marvel, Star Wars News, Where To Watch Online

Disney’s D23 Expo comes along every two years, bringing with it all kinds of news about upcoming movies, theme park rides, and TV shows. From Pixar’s upcoming animated films to the latest Star Wars and Marvel Cinematic Universe offerings, there’s plenty to learn about and 2019’s expo will be no different when it runs between Friday, August 23, and Sunday, August 25. As with all big events, news slips out a little earlier, and that’s been the case with D23 too. For example, it has been reported that a Ms. Marvel TV show is coming to Disney+ and Game of Thrones star Kit Harington is joining the MCU.

This might be the biggest D23 yet. On the heels of Marvel Studios revealing its Phase 4 slate at San Diego Comic-Con, D23 will present panels that focus on Walt Disney Studios, as well as the upcoming Disney+ streaming service. That means we’ll not only likely get more details about what’s to come from the MCU on the big and small screen, but also looks at Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker and the upcoming original series The Mandalorian. On the latter front, we’ve already gotten a look at the first Mandalorian poster.

Then, of course, there are the theme parks. There’s a Marvel land in the works at Disney California Adventure, along with an immersive Star Wars hotel in Florida, and a new ride at both Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge lands that will likely be discussed this weekend. So far, we’ve learned about the Avengers Campus that will be housed at Disneyland.

GameSpot will be on the ground at D23, gathering all the information you could possibly need. However, several of the expo panels will also be streaming online this year via D23.com. You can take a look at the biggest panels of the three-day convention below, as well as the ones that will be available to watch online, so you can adequately prepare your weekend. All of the times below are PT.

Friday, August 23, 2019

  • Disney Legends Ceremony – 10:30 am (STREAMING)
  • The Music and Sounds of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge – 12:30 pm
  • Disney+ Showcase – 3:30 pm
  • Vader Immortal: A Star Wars VR Series – Episode II First Looks – 2 pm
  • Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD – 3 pm
  • Behind the Art of Disney Costuming – 4 pm (STREAMING)

Saturday, August 24, 2019

  • Behind the Scenes with The Walt Disney Studios – 10 AM
  • The Simpsons, 10 am
  • Women of Impact: Meet the Nat Geo Explorers Changing the World – 10 am (STREAMING)
  • Haunted Mansion: Celebrating 50 Years – 12:30 pm
  • Immersive Worlds: Bringing Films to Life in Disney Parks – 3:30 pm
  • Marvel Comics: Marvel’s 80th Anniversary – 5:30 pm (STREAMING)

Sunday, August 25, 2019

  • Heroines of the Disney Galaxies presented by BoxLunch – 10 am (STREAMING)
  • Sneak Peek! Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products – 10:30 am
  • Inspiring Women Behind Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge – 2 pm
  • The Art of Disney Storytelling – 3 pm (STREAMING)

The Biggest D23 News

Ms. Marvel Coming To Disney+

A TV show based on teenage superhero Ms. Marvel, also known as Kamala Khan, is reportedly in the works. Bisha K. Ali is attached as writer and showrunner. Although details about what the series will entail are unavailable, we expect to hear more during D23. Either way, it should be something fresh and different, if only because Kamala is a unique character among Marvel’s stable of heroes. She’s a Pakistani American muslim and, as such, has a very different cultural perspective.

Another Game of Thrones Star Is Joining The MCU

The MCU is quickly becoming the go-to destination for Game of Thrones alum. Reports have indicated that Kit Harington will be joining one of Marvel and Disney’s MCU projects. Harington played Jon Snow in HBO’s massively-successful fantasy series. However, as of yet it isn’t clear which project that is. If it’s happening in Phase 4, it could be that Harington will be added to the ensemble cast for The Eternals, where he would appear alongside fellow Game of Thrones alum Richard Madden.

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Things to Do in N.Y.C. This Weekend

Various Locations

Afropunk and Charlie Parker Jazz Festival

Two of the city’s biggest outdoor music festivals are taking place this weekend: Afropunk in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, and the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival, which kicked off Wednesday, at various locations in Manhattan. These annual music events may signal that the end of summer is near, but, as Giovanni Russonello writes, the outdoor music season is about to “enter its most enchanted hour.” He offers a guide to some of the outdoor concerts worth your time, including Electric Zoo, Janelle Monáe, Willie Nelson and Mitski. More details on this weekend’s concerts: afropunk.com; cityparksfoundation.org/charlieparker.

Richard Taittinger Gallery

‘Fraaaandship!’

Maria Qamar’s Pop art paintings may bring to mind Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol, but her works are very much rooted in her experience as a South Asian millennial contemplating immigration, misogyny, gender stereotypes and more. You can see for yourself at Richard Taittinger Gallery, which is exhibiting “Fraaaandship!,” her first solo show with the Lower East Side gallery. Through Sept. 2; richardtaittinger.com.

[Read our Q. and A. with Maria Qamar.]

Brooklyn Museum

‘Pierre Cardin: Future Fashion’

The Brooklyn Museum’s Pierre Cardin retrospective, Jason Farago wrote in his review, “offers a swinging reintroduction to Parisian style in the 1960s and 1970s, when the New Look gave way to thigh-high boots and dresses of heat-molded synthetics.” The groovy futuristic designs are a visual delight, but this informative show also delves into how Cardin “masterminded a business approach now gone general.” Through Jan. 5; brooklynmuseum.org.

[Read Jason Farago’s exhibition review.]

BAM Rose Cinemas and Metrograph

‘The Harder They Come’

Perry Henzell’s outlaw film, with one of cinema’s most infectious scores and starring a radiant Jimmy Cliff, was independent Jamaica’s first homemade feature, J. Hoberman wrote in his Rewind column this week. It is back on the big screen at two New York theaters (and streaming, of course, on various sites), showing in conjunction with Henzell’s long-delayed follow-up, “No Place Like Home,” which is also at BAM Rose Cinemas. bam.org; metrograph.com.

Williamsburg, Brooklyn

‘Beyond the Streets’

Graffiti evolved rapidly, “captured in an eternal tug of war between external legitimacy and internal credibility, between the outlaw fringes and solvency,” Jon Caramanica wrote in his review of the graffiti exhibition “Beyond the Streets.” He reports that both of those stories are told side by side, in this Brooklyn exhibition, “and sometimes all at once.” Through Sept. 29; beyondthestreets.com.

[Read Jon Caramanica’s review.]






Nicole Herrington is the Weekend Arts editor @nikkih04

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Climate Change Is Driving An Increase In A Deadly Flesh-Eating Bacteria And Spreading It To New Areas

Beach goers enjoy the ocean in Daytona Beach.

The morning after a deep-sea fishing trip off of Florida’s Gulf Coast, Brielle Owens got out of bed and immediately fell to the ground.

“I literally just could not walk,” said Owens, who was 25 at the time. “It felt as if I had no feeling in [my left] foot. It was just limp.”

Her parents rushed her to the emergency room where doctors took a culture of a pimplelike bump on her ankle, then sent her home with some antibiotics. Days later, a surgeon was cutting out dead tissue from her foot. Over the course of several weeks, tissue had to be removed two more times.

“They told me that if they had to do another surgery that they were most likely going to have to cut my leg off,” Owens said.

Owens and her parents at the hospital

What her doctors initially believed was a spider bite rapidly progressed into a severe skin infection caused by a rare but deadly form of Vibrio, a group of bacteria naturally found in warm, brackish, and ocean waters all over the world. People can become infected by eating contaminated seafood, particularly raw oysters, or exposing cuts or breaks in the skin to water containing the bacteria — leading to what’s commonly referred to as flesh-eating disease.

In the US, the number of reported cases of Vibrio illness has more than tripled since 1997, from 386 to 1,256 in 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Now experts say climate change is helping drive the increase, allowing the bacteria to thrive in areas that were previously too cold, and illustrating one of the many unforeseen threats rising temperatures and sea levels pose to human health.

This summer, hundreds of cases of Vibrio have been reported up and down the Atlantic Coast, across the Gulf states, and in the Pacific Northwest, according to CDC data. Several people have died from the infections in Texas and Florida.

The increase in illnesses comes as climate change and coastal urbanization create a perfect storm for waterborne bacteria, said Geoff Scott, clinical professor and chair of the department of environmental health sciences in the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina.

“You get increased runoff of nutrients, increased levels of other things in the water, plus the rise of sea level, the change in temperature and salinity — those are all factors that can make these Vibrio bacteria have a very unique opportunity,” Scott told BuzzFeed News.

The CDC estimates that the bacteria cause 80,000 illnesses and 100 deaths each year, with the majority occurring between May and October when water temperatures are warmer. About a dozen species of Vibrio can cause human illness, but the most common in the US are Vibrio parahaemolyticus, Vibrio vulnificus, and Vibrio alginolyticus.

Reported cases of Vibrio parahaemolyticus and Vibrio vulnificus

Vibrio bacteria can cause a range of illnesses from gastroenteritis — a disease marked by diarrhea, abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting, fever, and chills — to septicemia, a life-threatening bloodstream infection. Vibrio vulnificus, the species most commonly associated with wound infections, can also cause necrotizing fasciitis, commonly referred to as flesh-eating disease, and lead to amputations and even death.

Anyone can get sick from Vibrio, but people with existing health conditions, like diabetes, liver disease, or cancer, are more likely to become ill and develop severe complications.

Erin Stokes, an epidemiologist in the CDC’s Enteric Diseases Branch, said the agency’s data shows the number of Vibrio infections have been increasing for many years, and while research is yet to clearly show why the increases are occurring, the warming of coastal waters is likely a factor. That’s because the bacteria proliferate in water temperatures above 15 degrees Celsius, or 59 degrees Fahrenheit, a threshold that’s being exceeded more often in waters farther north than previously seen.

“We’re seeing Vibrio infections actually in areas that we’ve never seen before,” Rachel Noble, professor of marine sciences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, told BuzzFeed News. “You’re talking about places in Norway, Finland, the Baltic Sea — very, very far north.”

It’s possible for Vibrio to grow in waters colder than 15 degrees Celsius, said Noble, whose lab has been studying the bacteria for 20 years, but at and above that temperature the bacteria grow more plentifully and begin to pose a threat to human health.

An employee of an oyster company sorts and counts fresh oysters in the Chesapeake Bay, where Vibrio is known to grow.

Historically, Vibrio illnesses from seafood consumption in the US have been linked to shellfish from the Gulf of Mexico, where water temperatures are regularly warm, but in the last 20 years, outbreaks have been connected to shellfish harvested in the Pacific Northwest, Alaska, and parts of the Northeast.

“One of the major factors why we’re seeing more cases is the wider geographical expansion of the range so that more people are coming in contact with it,” Scott said.

And while the majority of illnesses — about 52,000 — are the result of eating contaminated food, skin infection cases are also occurring in areas where the bacteria were not previously endemic.

In a report published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in June, doctors at Cooper University Hospital in New Jersey linked climate change to a spike in severe skin infections in the Delaware Bay. Between 2017 and 2018, the hospital saw five patients with flesh-eating Vibrio vulnificus infections, one of whom died as a result.

In the previous eight years, the hospital had only seen one case of a Vibrio wound infection.

“We were surprised that we were seeing more wound infections caused by Vibrio this far north,” Katherine Doktor, one of the authors of the report, told BuzzFeed News.

Average August sea surface temperatures from 1985-2010, left, compared to August 2013, when the northeastern US coast experienced an outbreak of Vibrio bacteria contaminated shellfish. Pinks and reds show warmer water that promotes Vibrio growth.

Average August sea surface temperatures from 1985-2010, left, compared to August 2013, when the northeastern US coast experienced an outbreak of Vibrio bacteria contaminated shellfish. Pinks and reds show warmer water that promotes Vibrio growth.

Average August sea surface temperatures from 1985-2010, left, compared to August 2013, when the northeastern US coast experienced an outbreak of Vibrio bacteria contaminated shellfish. Pinks and reds show warmer water that promotes Vibrio growth.

Doktor, an infectious disease physician and assistant professor at Cooper Medical School of Rowan University, said while infections are common in the Chesapeake Bay farther to the south, it was unusual to see cases from the Delaware Bay, which is sandwiched between Delaware and New Jersey.

Rising sea surface temperatures in the Delaware Bay, they concluded, must have been a factor in the sharp increase in infections. Data from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration shows water temperatures at two sites in the estuary hovered in the mid-70s during the summers of 2017 and 2018, when the five patients were infected.

Though rare in comparison to other bacterial infections like staph, Vibrio vulnificus infections can progress rapidly and become fatal. About 1 in 5 people infected with the bacteria die, sometimes within a day or two of becoming ill, according to the CDC.

“We wanted people, health care providers specifically, to be aware that if they were to see a very severe infection that was spreading rapidly, they should consider Vibrio vulnificus as one of the causes,” Doktor said.

Other types of bacteria can also cause flesh-eating disease. Public health officials believe the bacteria that causes strep throat is the most common cause of the infection, according to the CDC.

“The key is, if you go swimming and you get an infection, it would probably be wise if it gets very red and inflamed … to seek medical help early,” Scott said.

For wound infections, early antibiotic treatment and, if needed, surgery are the best way to prevent the disease from spreading. Still, experts emphasized that while the risk of exposure and the geographical range of the bacteria are expected to continue growing, healthy people have a lower chance of getting sick.

“I don’t want people to be afraid to go in the water or eat shellfish, but I do think that people who have these risk factors need to be conscious of them and, you know, adjust their eating habits and their activities,” Doktor said, adding that people should also avoid going in brackish or salt water if they have any open wounds.

And while not all strains of the disease-causing Vibrio species make people sick, it appears that the variants that cause illnesses have been showing up more frequently in recent years.

A digitally-colorized microscopic image depicts Vibrio vulnificus bacteria.

“Climate change is likely to be playing a role in the development of more dangerous Vibrios, meaning that the more pathogenic ones are becoming more numerous,” Noble said.

In addition to warming ocean temperatures, sea level rise is also contributing to the growth of Vibrio in estuaries by infusing salt water further into coastal rivers.

In a study published last year, Scott and other scientists predicted a significant expansion of the deadly bacteria in a South Carolina bay due to increases in salinity, resulting in a more than 200% increase in the risk of exposure to the bacteria.

“If that condition holds true in other parts of the world because of the increasing sea level rise and the expanding geographical range, then that means we’re going to see a lot more of those Vibrios in the future,” Scott told BuzzFeed News.

Urbanization of coastal areas is also contributing to the bacteria’s growth, including in historically warmer waters where Vibrio has long been found. As communities pour asphalt and concrete over coastal lands that would typically absorb rainfall, stormwater runoff sends more nutrients into streams, estuaries, and the ocean, causing a proliferation of algae that Vibrio thrive off of.

“The nutrients make the algae grow, the algae proliferates, and then you have a situation where the Vibrio, they literally take off,” Noble said.

The problem is exacerbated in the event of a hurricane, another naturally occurring phenomenon being driven to new extremes by climate change. Floodwaters from hurricanes often contain a range of harmful chemicals and microbial pathogens, including Vibrio bacteria.

Evacuees wade through floodwaters from Hurricane Harvey in Houston, Texas.

In Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina, the CDC reported two dozen cases of Vibrio wound infections leading to six deaths. Cases of flesh-eating disease were also reported in the wake of Hurricane Harvey in 2017, and Noble said she heard anecdotally from emergency room physicians in North Carolina that they saw upticks in infections after hurricanes Matthew and Florence.

Scientists are working to develop better forecasting models to predict and ultimately warn the public when Vibrio outbreaks could occur. While measures are in place to try to minimize the risk of illness from seafood consumption, there aren’t any beach testing programs or advisories to prevent infections from recreational contact.

Unlike with E. coli and blue-green algae toxins, there is no threshold for Vibrio that would indicate risk of illness.

Owens grew up fishing, snorkeling, and playing water sports along the Gulf Coast, but hadn’t heard much about bacterial infections before she got sick in 2017.

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From left to right, Owens’ foot on July 16, 18, and 21, 2017

“Until it actually happened to me, I honestly only heard of maybe a few cases, but I feel like now I hear of them almost every single week,” the 27-year-old said.

Realizing that she had been infected with a bacteria that could have killed her in the waters she had enjoyed all her life was shocking.

“It makes you question everything,” said Owens, who now lives in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Though the infection didn’t take her life, it certainly changed it.

Owens spent three to four months in the hospital that summer as doctors worked to rid her of the infection with surgery and antibiotics. The surgeries left about a foot-long, three-inch-wide hole in her left leg.

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Owens’ leg after her third surgery to remove infected tissue.

“My wound nurse would have to stuff that full of gauze every day, wrap it, and then come back the following day and rip all of that out,” Owens said. “That was my life every single day for months.”

The experience cost Owens her job, triggered her anxiety and depression, and left a large, dark scar on her foot and leg.

These days Owens said she is sometimes hesitant about going in the water but tries to not let the fear of getting an infection control her life.

“I live and breathe the water,” she said, “but I do second-guess where I go in the water now.”

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Ms. Marvel Series Eyed at Disney+

Another Marvel superhero is landing at Disney’s new streaming service: A Ms. Marvel live-action series is in development at Disney+, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Ms. Marvel has existed as a character in the comic books since the 1960s, but the show will focus on the latest incarnation: Kamala Khan, a Pakistani American teen who hails from New Jersey. (Khan became the first Muslim character to headline her own Marvel comic book.) Bisha K. Ali, a writer on Hulu’s Four Weddings and a Funeral adaptation, will pen the pilot and also serve as showrunner.

The project joins a full slate of Marvel-themed series already in the works at Disney+. Tom Hiddleston is set to reprise his role as Thor villain Loki in a new series, and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier will see Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan return to their Avengers roles. Jeremy Renner has also signed on to play archer Hawkeye once again in a limited series for the streamer, and Elizabeth Olsen (Scarlet Witch) and Paul Bettany (The Vision) will reprise their Avengers roles in the limited series Wandavision.

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