Florida reports 10th Vibrio vulnificus death of 2021 in Palm Beach County

Florida state health officials reported one additional case/death due to Vibrio vulnificus in 2021, according to data published December 29.

Image/David Benbennick

The latest case/death is reported from Palm Beach County.

This brings the state’s death total to ten this year–Manatee (2), Duval, Escambia, Lee, Leon, Levy, Orange, Palm Beach and Polk counties.

It is also the 34th case this year–Brevard, Charlotte (2), Clay, Duval, Escambia (3), Franklin, Hernando, Hillsborough (3), Lee (5), Leon, Levy, Manatee (2), Orange, Palm Beach (2), Polk (3), Santa Rosa (2), Seminole, Taylor and Volusia (2).

Vibrio vulnificus can cause disease in those who eat contaminated seafood or have an open wound that is exposed to warm seawater containing the bacteria. 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 to warm seawater; these infections may lead to skin breakdown and ulcers.

Healthy individuals typically develop a mild disease; however, Vibrio vulnificus infections can be a serious concern for people who have weakened immune systems, particularly those with chronic liver disease.

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The bacterium can invade the bloodstream, causing a severe and life-threatening illness with symptoms like fever, chills, decreased blood pressure (septic shock) and blistering skin lesions. Vibrio vulnificus bloodstream infections are fatal about 50 percent of the time. A recent study showed that people with these pre-existing medical conditions were 80 times more likely to develop Vibrio vulnificus bloodstream infections than healthy people.


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