Two additional fatalities due to infection with the naturally occurring bacterium, Vibrio vulnificus were reported in Florida, bring the death total to seven for 2015 to date.
The deaths were reported from Sarasota and Duval counties, according to state health officials.
The additional cases bring the state total to 13 cases. Last year, Florida reported 32 cases and seven deaths.
In Gulfport, Mississippi, officials with the One Coast Olympic Triathlon cancelled the upcoming 2015 event scheduled for Sept. 20 due in part to the athletes concern about the bacteria in the Gulf waters. where some of the event would take place.
Dean Morrow with the host of the event, Run-N-Tri Company said, “As a race director, do you go through with everything and put 200 people in the water and hope 200 people don’t get sick. It falls back on our shoulders to be responsible and not put people in danger.”
Morrow made the decision to cancel the event.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says Vibrio vulnificus is a bacterium in the same family as those that cause cholera and Vibrio parahaemolyticus. It normally lives in warm seawater and is part of a group of vibrios that arecalled “halophilic” because they require salt.
V. vulnificus can cause disease in those who eat contaminated seafood or have an open wound that isexposed to seawater. Among healthy people, ingestion of V. vulnificus can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. In immunocompromised persons, particularly those with chronic liver disease,V. vulnificuscan infect the bloodstream, causing a severe and life-threatening illness characterized by fever and chills, decreased blood pressure (septic shock), and blistering skin lesions. V. vulnificus bloodstreaminfections are fatal about 50% of the time.
V. vulnificus can cause an infection of the skin when open wounds are exposed to warm seawater; theseinfections may lead to skin breakdown and ulceration. Persons who are immunocompromised are at higher risk for invasion of the organism into the bloodstream and potentially fatal complications.