The Florida Department of Health has issued a warning that many of the state's beaches are contaminated with this nasty flesh-eating bacteria.
Florida health officials have issued a shocking warning for those looking to spend some time at the beach this summer. The Florida Department of Health advised that bathers should be wary of the rare and possibly deadly bacteria Vibrio vulnificus. According to the Orlando Sentinel, the bacteria are found in warm bodies of salt water and invade the swimmers’ bodies through open wounds.
The Florida Department of Health’s website displayed the warning, “Water and wounds do not mix,” specifically recommending that people with fresh cuts or even scrapes should not go into the ocean whatsoever.
The department warned that people with immune system deficiencies as a result of chronic liver disease or kidney disease were at a specifically high risk of infection, The warning said that these people should take measures to avoid getting cut or scraped in the first if visiting the beach.
These nasty bacteria are also found in seafood, particularly raw shellfish like oysters. If eaten directly, the bacteria pose a much higher risk and could be deadly. There have already been seven cases of Vibrio vulnificus infection this year in the Sunshine State, including two that resulted in fatalities.
Vibrio vulnificus infections lead to symptoms including vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and blistering skin. Infections through open wounds carry a mortality rate of 25 percent, while people with a weakened immune system face a mortality rate of 50 percent if infected. As of now, there is no standard treatment for a Vibrio vulnificus infection.
Infections typically occur between May and October, when the average water temperature is between 68 and 95 degrees. The Florida Health Department reminds beachgoers to be very conscious of any open wounds before entering the water, and to avoid consuming raw or undercooked shellfish.