In 2014, Lake County, Florida, in the central part of the state, saw no cases of bacterial infection from Vibrio vulnificus. In fact, going back 5 years to 2010, the county did not report a case.

Image/Dave Benbennick
Image/Dave Benbennick

However, in 2015, Lake County has just reported their 2nd vibriosis case of the year, which includes one fatality.

This brings the state’s total case county to 18 for the year, including 9 deaths.

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.

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