The number of Vibrio vulnificus cases reported in Florida in 2015 is 45 confirmed, the highest number reported since 2003, according to the Florida Department of Health statistics.

Vibrio vulnificus/CDC
Vibrio vulnificus/CDC

Last year, 45 cases of the bacterial infection were reported from 27 counties, with Hillsborough and Duval counties recording the most, five and four, respectively.

In addition, 14 V. vulnificus related fatalities were reported in 2015.

The last year this many cases were reported was in 2003 when 45 confirmed and 1 probable case was reported. In 2014, 32 cases and 7 deaths were reported.

Since 2000, 472 confirmed cases were reported in the Sunshine State.

Vibrio vulnificus can cause disease in those who eat contaminated seafood or have an open wound that is exposed to warm seawater containing the bacteria. Ingestion of Vibrio vulnificus can cause vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. Vibrio vulnificus can also cause an infection of the skin when open wounds are exposed to warm seawater; these infections may lead to skin breakdown and ulcers.

Healthy individuals typically develop a mild disease; however, Vibrio vulnificus infections can be a serious concern for people who have weakened immune systems, particularly those with chronic liver disease.

The bacterium can invade the bloodstream, causing a severe and life-threatening illness with symptoms like fever, chills, decreased blood pressure (septic shock) and blistering skin lesions. Vibrio vulnificus bloodstream infections are fatal about 50 percent of the time. A recent study showed that people with these pre-existing medical conditions were 80 times more likely to develop Vibrio vulnificus bloodstream infections than healthy people.


Robert Herriman is a microbiologist and the Editor-in-Chief of Outbreak News Today and the Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch

Follow @bactiman63