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People on Alert over Deadly Florida Bacteria

Vibrio Vulnificus

This year in Florida, a potentially deadly bacteria known as. “Vibrio Vulnificus” has killed two people and infected at least seven so far.  Vibrio Vulnificus is usually found in warm seawater and can cause illness in those who eat contaminated seafood, or have an open wound that is exposed to seawater. 

The bacteria is known to grow faster in seawater temperatures of 68 to 95 degrees.

Those with a weak immune system are at risk for Vibrio Vulnificus when they eat raw seafood, especially oysters.  In fact, a recent study showed that those with a fragile immune system are 80 times more likely to develop a bloodstream infection from Vibrio Vulnificus than those with healthy immune systems. Bloodstream infections are fatal about 50% of the time in those affected.  Those with Vibrio Vulnificus who find treatment are not expected to experience any long term consequences, as the infection is an acute illness.

Treatment for Vibrio Vulnificus

If you or someone you know may have Vibrio Vulnificus, treatment should begin immediately, as antibiotics improve the rate of survival.  With an open wound, it’s important to react immediately, as in severe cases, amputation of the infected body part is necessary.

How to prevent Vibrio Vulnificus

  • Avoid exposing open wounds to warm saltwater, brackish water or to raw shellfish
  • Wear protective clothing when handling raw shellfish
  • Cook shellfish thoroughly and avoid food contamination with juices from raw seafood
  • Eat shellfish promptly after cooking and refrigerate leftovers
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