Since our last report on Vibrio vulnificus in Florida on July 1, state health authorities now report the the total case count has risen to 26 and the death count has risen to five.
The cases are distributed as follows: Alachua (1), Bay (1), Brevard (1), Broward (1), Charlotte (1), Escambia (4), Gadsden (1), Hernando (1), Hillsborough (4), Lee (3), Leon (1), Okaloosa (1), Pasco (1), Polk (1), Sarasota (2), Seminole (1) and Washington (1).
The five fatalities were reported from Hillsborough (2), Polk (1), Pasco (1) and Sarasota (1).
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.