Following reports of one and possibly two serious Vibrio vulnificus infections in Texas men who contracted the bacterium while visiting  the Texas Gulf Coast HERE and HERE, officials with the Galveston County Health District responded to media accounts with the following statement:

Vibrio vulnificus/CDC
Vibrio vulnificus/CDC

You’ve probably heard about a case of Vibrio recently acquired at a Galveston beach, unscientifically referred to as “flesh eating bacteria.” Below are some facts that may be excluded from the reports and posts you’ve seen.

-Vibrio is naturally occurring and frequently present in most salt and brackish water. It’s rare people get an infection from the bacteria. In fact, out of 6-million visitors to Galveston Island last year, fewer than ten cases of Vibrio infection were reported to the Galveston County Health District.

-Consuming raw shellfish is the most common way people get Vibrio infection, according to CDC. To prevent such instances, we recommend people not eat raw shellfish.

-Infections can also occur when the bacteria enters the body through open cuts or sores. If you have open cuts or sores, you should wrap them well in waterproof bandages or not swim in untreated water anywhere, anytime. If you’re not sure if you should be in untreated water, ask your doctor.

-If a wound becomes red or swollen after swimming in untreated water, see your doctor immediately to receive proper treatment.

-Most people recover from Vibrio infection without long-term complications. When Vibrio infection is severe, it’s common the affected person had serious preexisting health conditions, like diabetes or hepatitis.

-There are currently fewer Vibrio cases in our area than recent years.

Nationally in 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 124 Vibrio vulnificus cases, including 21 fatalities.