It is that time. As the weather heats up, it is common to find a rare form of flesh-eating bacteria (Vibrio Vulnificus) in Florida waters. As of now in 2015, eight people in the state have contracted Vibrio Vulnificus. Two of those people have died from the bacteria. Currently, there is no reported cases of the bacteria in Escambia and Okaloosa counties and just one in Santa Rosa. It’s rare to contract the bacteria, and it can be cured with antibiotics if caught in time, but in some cases it can lead to death. WEAR Channel 3 interviewed Doctor John Lanza with the Escambia County Health Department regarding the bacteria. According to him, Vibrio Vulnificus has been around for years and he sees cases of the bacteria spike in the warmer months. Due to the warm waters of the Gulf and the Atlantic, the bacteria is always here.
How do you get it? People can contract the bacteria from consuming raw oysters, swimming with an open wound in warm, brackish, or salt water, or getting a scratch from something in the water that has the bacteria growing on it.
How would you know that you have the bacteria? Dr. John Lanza says that a person would have symptoms of nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea from the ingestion of water containing Vibrio. With a wound infected with the bacteria, you would see redness, oozing , pain, fever, and with a scratch you would see that also. If exposed, the bacteria could find its way into your blood stream. If the infection is caught in time antibiotics can treat it. But, if you have a compromised immune system, it can be deadly.
So, what should we take from this article? Don’t consume raw oysters, and if you have an open wound – stay out of the water.