Published On: Sat, Oct 12th, 2013

Florida reports 32nd Vibrio vulnificus case in Hillsborough County resident, Mobile County confirms second case

The number of cases of the very serious bacterial infection caused by Vibrio vulnificus in the Sunshine State has increased by one since last reported on Wednesday.

Public domain image/Daderot

Public domain image/Daderot

The Florida Department of Health (FL DOH) is reporting its 32nd case of the infection in Hillsborough County. This is Hillsborough County’s 4th confirmed case.

The number of fatalities associated with V. vulnificus remains at 10 in Florida.

In Florida’s neighbor in the panhandle, Mobile County health officials have confirmed a second case of the bacterial infection in a Mobile man with underlying conditions. Earlier we reported one confirmed case and death in a man in the county.

The Mobile County Health Department says both men had contact with seawater in south Mobile County while tending to crab traps.

The FL DOH says 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. Wound infections may also be serious in people with weakened immune systems. The wound may heal poorly and require surgery. Sometimes amputation may even be needed for recovery.

Health officials say Vibrio vulnificus is rare, but it is also underreported. Between 1988 and 2006, the CDC received reports of more than 900 Vibrio vulnificus infections from the Gulf Coast states, where most cases occur.

They offer the following tips on preventing this potentially lethal infection:

  • Do not eat raw oysters or other raw shellfish.
  • Cook shellfish (oysters, clams, mussels) thoroughly.
  • For shellfish in the shell, either a) boil until the shells open and continue boiling for 5 more minutes, or b) steam until the shells open and then continue cooking for 9 more minutes. Do not eat those shellfish that do not open during cooking. Boil shucked oysters at least 3 minutes, or fry them in oil at least 10 minutes at 375°F.
  • Avoid cross-contamination of cooked seafood and other foods with raw seafood and juices from raw seafood.
  • Eat shellfish promptly after cooking and refrigerate leftovers.
  • Avoid exposure of open wounds or broken skin to warm salt or brackish water, or to raw shellfish harvested from such waters.
  • Wear protective clothing (e.g., gloves) when handling raw shellfish.

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

Displaying 3 Comments
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  1. Bill Reeder says:

    It is doubtful the truth is being reported. What it appears is the same symptoms that occur when exposed to Exxon/Nalco’s dispersants that BP has used on there spill in the gulf. The Gulf is becoming saturated with toxic corexit and these type problems will become exponential as time passes.

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