Florida state health officials have reported 39 Vibrio vulnificus cases through Dec. 14, down from last year’s total of 50. Of this total, nine fatalities have been reported.
Lee County saw the most with four cases, while nine counties reported two cases each. Deaths were reported from Hillsborough (2), Dade, Indian River, Jackson, Okaloosa, Sarasota, Volusia and Walton counties.
People can get infected with Vibrio vulnificus when they eat raw shellfish, particularly oysters. The bacterium is frequently isolated from oysters and other shellfish in warm coastal waters during the summer months. Since it is naturally found in warm marine waters, people with open wounds can be exposed to Vibrio vulnificus through direct contact with seawater. There is no evidence of person-to-person transmission of Vibrio vulnificus.
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.