During the past decade, 2016 saw the most Vibrio vulnificus cases in Florida topping out at 46. That record didn’t last long as state health officials have reported 48 cases in 2017 to date.

Counties reporting the most cases include Collier with 5 and Hillsborough and Lee counties with 4 each and Brevard, Citrus, Escambia, Pinellas and Sumter counties with 3 each.

In addition, 11 fatalities have been reported this year.

Below is a breakdown of cases in Florida since 2008:

Historical Data Cases Deaths
2008 16 6
2009 24 7
2010 32 10
2011 35 13
2012 26 9
2013 41 12
2014 32 7
2015 45 14
2016 46 10

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.

Florida map/National Atlas of the United States
Florida map/National Atlas of the United States

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.

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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.

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