Florida health officials have warned residents and visitors to be careful when wading or swimming through warm, brackish seawater since they could easily get infected with vibrioisis caused by Vibrio vulnificus, especially if they have open wounds, blisters, cuts or even scratches.
Vibriosis can lead to septicemia and severe wound infections. Failure to recognize and treat this infection promptly leads to high morbidity and mortality. Septicemia or sepsis is life-threatening organ dysfunction, with those having chronic liver problems or that are immunocompromised likely to require intensive care or die within days of contracting it.
According to official data, vibriosis infection kills one in five. Some of the survivors are likely to have their limbs amputated as the bacteria can cause the flesh surrounding the wound to rot and die.
Already, the Florida Department of Health has reported a record 65 infections and 11 fatalities in the state this year, surpassing the 2021 total and exceeding the totals posted since 2008, when the vibriosis data collection started. Six of the deaths were recorded after Hurricane Ian ravaged the southeast United States on September 28.
Sewage that seeped into the waters because of the hurricane enhanced the growth of Vibrio vulnificus and may have been instrumental in the spike.