VIDEO: Brevard Health Officials Urge Precautions To Avoid Exposure To Vibrio Vulnificus
By Dr. James Palermo // July 14, 2016
do not eat raw shellfish
ABOVE VIDEO: Dr. Carina Blackmore, State Public Health Veterinarian/Deputy State Epidemiologist answers frequently asked questions about exposure to and prevention of Vibrio vulnificus infection.
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA — The Florida Department of Health in Brevard County (DOH- Brevard) urges Floridians and visitors to the area to take precautions to avoid exposure to Vibrio vulnificus.
Vibrio vulnificus is a bacterium in the same family as those that cause cholera, normally lives in warm seawater and is part of a group of vibrios that are called “halophilic” because they require salt to survive.
The bacterium is frequently isolated from oysters and other shellfish in warm coastal waters during the summer months, and although Vibrio vulnificus can be present in any warm seawater or brackish water ways, the majority of cases have been reported in the gulf coast states.
Vibrio vulnificus can cause disease in those who eat contaminated seafood or expose an open wound to warm, brackish seawater. Ingestion of Vibrio vulnificus can cause vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. Vibrio vulnificus can also cause an infection of the skin when open wounds are exposed; these infections may lead to skin breakdown and ulcers.
“I encourage residents to practice good wound care, as it is the best way to prevent a bacterial skin infection,” stated DOH-Brevard Interim Administrator Miranda Hawker.
“Keep open wounds covered with clean, dry bandages until healed and don’t delay first aid of even minor, non- infected wounds like blisters, scrapes or any break in the skin.”
Persons who have weakened immune systems, especially those with chronic liver disease, are at risk for Vibrio vulnificus infection when they eat raw shellfish, particularly oysters. People with these pre-existing medical conditions are 80 times more likely to develop Vibrio vulnificus blood infections than healthy people.
Tips for preventing Vibrio vulnificus infections include:
- 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 5 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.
- Avoid exposure of open wounds or broken skin to warm salt or brackish water, or to rawshellfish harvested from such waters.
- Wear protective clothing (e.g., gloves) when handling raw shellfish.
CLICK HERE for more information on Vibrio vulnificus on FloridaHealth.gov.