Watch Now: What You Need to Know About Bacteria in Seawater

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June 19, 2015


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(VIDEO: Carlos Torres-Viera, M.D., chairman of the infection control committee at West Kendall Baptist Hospital, explains what beachgoers need to know about the presence of certain bacteria in warm seawater.)

The summer season officially begins this weekend, but with it comes recent media reports highlighting the presence of a “flesh eating bacteria,”  known as vibrio vulnificus, at some Florida beaches. Carlos Torres-Viera, M.D., an infectious disease specialist with Baptist Health South Florida and chairman of the infection control committee at West Kendall Baptist Hospital, wants the public to know that while the bacteria is extremely dangerous, there are precautions you can take to prevent becoming infected.

The Florida Department of Health has set up a website with specific facts about vibrio vulnificus. Here are the highlights:

– Vibrio vulnificus is a bacterium that normally lives in warm seawater and is part of a group of vibrios that are called “halophilic” because they require salt.

– Vibrio vulnificus infections are rare.

– Vibrio vulnificus is a naturally occurring bacteria in warm, brackish seawater.

– Water and wounds do not mix. Do not enter the water if you have fresh cuts or scrapes.

IMPORTANT: Individuals who are immunocompromised, e.g chronic liver disease, kidney disease, or weakened immune system, should wear proper foot protection to prevent cuts and injury caused by rocks and shells on the beach.

Source: Florida Department of Health

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