Seawater bacteria responsible for nine deaths in Florida
Flagler County, FL (KTNV) -- Some beach lovers in Florida are hanging up their swim trunks and staying home this weekend.
A deadly bacteria is responsible for nine deaths so far this year. The latest victim was exposed while crab fishing in the Halifax River.
Vibrio vulnificus is a bacteria that normally lives in warm seawater and is part of a group of vibrios that are called "halophilic" because they require salt.
Here are some answers to frequently asked about about the bacteria:
How do people get infected with Vibrio vulnificus?
People who have weakened immune systems, especially those with chronic liver disease, are at risk for Vibrio vulnificus infection when they eat raw shellfish, particularly oysters. A recent study showed that people with these pre-existing medical conditions were 80 times more likely to develop Vibrio vulnificus bloodstream infections than healthy people. The bacteria is frequently isolated from oysters and other shellfish in warm coastal waters during the summer months. Since it is naturally found in warm marine waters, people with open wounds can be exposed through direct contact with seawater. There is no evidence of person-to-person transmission.
How can Vibrio vulnificus infection be diagnosed?
Vibrio vulnificus infection is diagnosed by stool, wound or blood cultures. Doctors should have a high suspicion for this organism when patients present with stomach illness, fever or shock following the ingestion of raw seafood, especially oysters, or with a wound infection after exposure to seawater.
For more information on Vibrio vulnificus, click here.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention