We thought the most dangerous thing in the ocean was a shark… but as it turns out, it might be bacteria!
Health officials in Florida say a strain of Vibrio vulnificus is to blame for sending dozens of beach-goers to the hospital this summer, with 10 people dying from their infections so far.
This bacteria is very similar to cholera and thrives in the warm salt waters off the Florida coast.
Swimmers with open cuts or gashes are warned to stay away from the water as the bacteria can enter their systems via their wounds. The deadly bacteria can also be contracted from consuming raw or undercooked seafood like oysters.
Cases of Vibrio vulnificus have also been reported in other southern states, including Alabama, Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi.
Tim O'Connor, a spokesperson for the Florida Department of Health, discussed the seriousness of these infections, saying:
"It's definitely something to take serious, but there are a number of other bacteria, that you could run into.”
The Department of Health suggests that all swimmers should wash off before heading back home. Individuals with an illness or compromised immune system are also cautioned from going in the water.
Many are asking why the warnings aren’t more visible along the beach. Several Floridians have questioned why the state wouldn’t put up signs explaining the dangers to residents.
Despite the deaths that have already occurred, health experts say this is a bacteria that is ALWAYS present in the water and that they are monitoring the existing cases closely.
So swim with caution on your vacations this summer, Perezcious readers!
[Image via AP Images.]
Tags: alabama, bacteria, beach, deaths, disease, florida, health, hospital, infection, louisiana, medicine, mississippi, news, sick, sickness, swimming, texas, vibrio vulnificus