The Florida Department of Health said there have been eight infections and two deaths reported in 2015 from vibro vulnificus. People can become infected by one of the two ways, be eating the raw shellfish that is carrying the bacteria, particularly oysters or by wading into infected waters with open wound.
Officials said that the deaths occurred in Brevard and Marion Counties, and most human cases of the bacteria every year typically occur in the Gulf Coast states.
Maras Burger, spokesperson from the Florida Health Department said, “Of the two, one patient had raw seafood exposure and one had multiple exposures prior to onset of symptoms.”
The department issues warnings every year ahead of the summer season. Florida and other Gulf Coast States, plus Maryland, have the highest rates of infections in the nation. Florida had 32 vibrio cases and seven deaths in 2014.
Nearly 1,000 people reported being infected by bacteria between 1988 and 2006, but officials say the disease often goes unreported. Seven people died from the affliction last year and 25 sickened, according to the Florida Department of Health.
The Florisa DOH stated “Ingestion of Vibrio vulnificus can cause vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. 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.”
Experts say the skin infections can be very painful, and even require limb amputations in severe cases.
The bacteria will kill half of those in whom it progresses to the life threatening stage, health officials say, particularly those with compromised immune systems.
Florida DOH website states, “Vibrio vulnificus infections can be a serious concern for people who have weakened immune systems, particularly those with chronic liver disease.”
Healthy individuals on the other hand, typically develop mild cases of the disease.
Vibrio vulnificus is often known as a flesh eating bacteria because of its ability to break down the epidermal layers and form blistering lesions when people contract the infection through open cuts or scrapes.
Burger said the highest danger of becoming infected by vibrio occurs between May and October, when sea water is warmest.
Vibrio vulnificus cannot be spread from person to person.