Monday, August 4, 2014

Flesh Eating Bacteria - Siesta Key Florida

We have received a number of calls at the Chamber about the bacteria, Vibrio vulnificus, which is naturally occurring in the warm saltwater of southwest Florida and Gulf of Mexico. It is extremely unfortunate that the media has chosen to use the words, "flesh-eating" 

According to the Florida Dept. of Health in Sarasota County:

1.    Vibrio vulnificus is a naturally occurring bacteria - meaning it is present all the time in warm brackish water and seawater (salt water). This includes marine waters outside Florida. The concentration of bacteria does increase in the summer months, we are not sure why this occurs.

2.    Residents and visitors with certain health conditions are urged to avoid eating raw oysters and exposing open wounds to seawater and estuarine water, which may harbor bacteria called V. vulnificus. Persons who have wounds, cuts or scratches and wade in estuarine areas or seawater where the bacteria might be present can become ill.

3.    Cuts or lesions can become infected with V. vulnificus when exposed to warm brackish water or salt water where the bacteria naturally occurs. Individuals may also become infected by consuming infected shellfish.

People should avoid eating raw or undercooked shellfish such as clams and

•         It is important to know that grocery stores and restaurants shellfish are approved and licensed for shellfish distribution.

•         If you harvest your own shellfish, it should be from an approved shellfish harvesting site. Sarasota County does not have those sites and shellfish harvesting sites elsewhere in the state are currently closed.

•         Shellfish that you prepare yourself should be cooked thoroughly when consumed either by frying, stewing, or roasting eliminates harmful bacteria and viruses in the meat.

4.    Symptoms may include: pain, redness, blistering skin lesions, fever, chills and discharge at site of wound. Infection by V. vulnificus may result in a blood stream infection. It is important to seek medical care if an  individual develops these symptoms after wounds have been exposed to brackish water or sea water. Other symptoms of infection include GI illness such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, fever, chills. Individuals experiencing these symptoms should contact a physician immediately for diagnosis and treatment. Treatment consists of antibiotics.

5.    Individuals with underlying health conditions are most at risk for developing serious illness from Vibrio vulnificus. Those who believe they have symptoms of V. vulnificus should contact a health care provider immediately for diagnosis and treatment.

            6.  Important point: Healthy individuals can continue to enjoy the beach and other salt water activities; however, those with open wounds on their body should be aware that they are taking a risk of contracting V. vulnificus.

           7. This is not a flesh-eating bacteria. Necrotic fasciitis is not typically associated with this type of bacterial infection.

Coordination: DOH-Sarasota PIO provided interview using approved talking points.

For more information or questions, please contact the Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County Office of Environmental Health at 941-861-6133.
Please visit the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce
Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce
5114 Ocean Boulevard
Siesta Key, FL 34242
(941) 349-3800

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