Flesh-Eating Bacteria Are Lurking In Warm Florida Waters

This is just rough. A man who was setting crab traps in the saltwater Halifax River last week is the latest victim in a string of Florida deaths caused by the flesh-eating Vibrio Vulnificus bacteria.

Vibrio Vulnificus is not new to Florida or the Gulf Coast region, and is garnering attention precisely because of a growing realization that the threat has been consistent over the last few years. So far in 2013 the Florida Department of Health (DOH) has reported 27 cases of human infection, which includes nine fatalities. Those are the same numbers reached during all of 2012. And there were 35 cases including 10 deaths in 2011.

The severity of a case depends on an individual's general health and immune system status, according to Carina Blackmore, the interim state epidemiologist at Florida's DOH. People with underlying conditions are less able to defend against the bacteria, especially if they have chronic liver disease. The DOH is continuing measures to reduce infection, and hopefully there won't be other cases in Florida this year. But with almost three months to go we're not out of the woods yet. Plus everything starts over on January 1. [The Daily Beast]

Image credit: Shutterstock/Jeff Kinsey