Vibrio vulnificus. If the infections continue at its pace in Florida, expect to hear more and more as the summer drags on. The flesh-eating bacteria is potentially deadly and thrives in warm saltwater. Florida’s warm waters make it the perfect home for the bacteria.

Halfway through 2015, the bacteria has infected at least seven, killing two. It’s not an infection to shrug at.

The breeding ground for Vibrio vulnificus is during the summer, in marine temperatures of 68 to 95 degrees. Public health officials note the majority of infections happen between May and October.

Last year in Florida, 32 cases were reported, along with seven deaths.

Vibrio Vulnificus Infection

Mara Burger, a Florida Health Department spokeswoman, sums up the risks:

“People can get infected with Vibrio vulnificus when they eat raw shellfish. Since it is naturally found in warm marine waters, people with open wounds can be exposed to Vibrio vulnificus through direct contact with seawater.”

flesh-eating vibrio vulnificus

Infections from consuming bad shellfish can result in gastroenteritis and or rare cases septicemia, an infection of the blood. The flesh-eating headlines come from being in warm marine waters with an open wound. Your flesh can become necrotic, and amputations of infected limbs may be the only way to save your life.

Additional symptoms can include cellulitis, a bacterial infection under the skin, and lesions. It’s one of those infections you don’t want to write off. If you have done the above two things and become sick, make sure your doctor is aware of the activities that preceded the illness.

Preventing Vibrio Vulnificus Infections

Instead of absolute misery, prevention is the key. According to the CDC, there are simple steps to mitigate your risk. The top is avoid swimming in marine waters with an open wound. It includes warm saltwater and brackish water.

If you are handling raw shellfish, make sure you are wearing protective clothing to cover any open sores, scrapes, etc. you may have.

Cook your food. Thoroughly cooking shellfish will kill off any potential contamination. After you cook, either eat it then or toss it in the fridge. The picnic table is not a storage area.

Common sense precautions to avoid a potentially deadly infection. Especially the open wound, flesh-eating variety. You don’t have to cancel your beach vacation. It’s safe to enjoy the summer, but it never hurts to be mindful of potential risks. Don’t hop in the water with open wounds and cook your food. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.


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