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Flagler Department of Health Issues Vibrio Vulnificus Reminder

September 10, 2020

Contact:
Gretchen Smith
Gretchen.Smith@FLHealth.gov
386-276-1168

BUNNELL - The Florida Department of Health in Flagler County (DOH-Flagler) is advising residents and visitors to take precautions to avoid Vibrio vulnificus infections.

Vibrio vulnificus is a naturally occurring bacteria found in warm, brackish and salt water like inlets and bays. Concentrations of this bacteria are higher when the water is warmer. Vibrio vulnificus can cause infection in individuals who have an open wound that is exposed to brackish or salt water containing the bacteria or who consume raw shellfish, particularly oysters, containing the bacteria. Severe infections from this type of bacteria are rare but can lead to complications and even death if not rapidly diagnosed and treated by medical professionals. Those with liver damage are most vulnerable to developing serious illness from Vibrio vulnificus, as well as those with hemochromatosis (iron overload), diabetes, cancer, stomach disorders or any illness or treatment that weakens the immune system. Individuals living without these conditions can also become ill after being exposed, although their illnesses tend to be less severe.

In 2020, there have been 16 Vibrio vulnificus cases reported throughout Florida with two deaths, compared with 27 cases and 2 deaths in 2019. A case, contracted while fishing in an inland waterway, was recently confirmed in Flagler County. This is the county's first reported case of Vibrio vulnificus since 2013.

Ways you can reduce your risk of Vibrio vulnificus infections:

  • Avoid walking, sitting, or swimming with open wounds, including cuts, scrapes and blisters at the beach or Intracoastal Waterway
  • Properly clean and treat wounds after accidentally exposing a wound to brackish or salt water, getting injured while in the water, or getting an injury or exposing a wound while cleaning or handling raw seafood
  • Rinse with fresh water after swimming
  • Do not eat raw oysters or other raw shellfish. Cook shellfish thoroughly before eating.
  • Avoid contaminating cooked shellfish with raw shellfish and its juices.
  • Seeking medical treatment immediately if you develop signs or symptoms of an infection (redness, swelling, fever, severe pain in area of red or swollen skin) near or around a wound, or if you develop fever and gastrointestinal illness following the ingestion of raw seafood.

For more information, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at https://www.cdc.gov/vibrio/prevention.html or http://www.floridahealth.gov/diseases-and-conditions/vibrio-infections/vibrio-vulnificus/index.html

About the Florid Department of Health

The Florida Department of Health, nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board, works to protect, promote and improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county and community efforts

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For information about the local health department, go to flagler.floridahealth.gov, call 386-437-7350, or visit 301 Dr. Carter Blvd. in Bunnell