For Hometown News
The Florida Departments of Health in Flagler and Volusia counties are advising people to be careful in warm seawater to avoid coming in contact with Vibrio vulnificus.
To date in 2013, 26 cases of Vibrio vulnificus have been reported in Florida, with nine deaths. There have been two cases in Volusia County.
Vibrio vulnificus is a bacterium in the same family as those that cause cholera. It normally lives in warm seawater or brackish water and is part of a group of vibrios that are called "halophilic" because they require salt.
Some tips for preventing Vibrio vulnificus infections, particularly among immunocompromised patients, including those with underlying liver disease:
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.
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 five 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.
For more information, visit www.cdc.gov.