Health officials warn of bacteria along coast
26 cases of Vibrio vulnificus reported across state
Officials said anyone who comes in contact with Vibrio vulnificus runs the risk of getting sick.
Twenty-six cases of the bacteria have been reported across the state. Two of them were in Volusia County, and one was in Flagler County.
Authorities said nine people have died of the bacteria in Florida, including a 59-year-old man in Palm Coast.
Officials said the bacteria can be contracted by eating raw shellfish or through an open wound. They said it’s a flesh-eating bacteria.
Health official warn seafood lovers and beachgoers to use caution.
“We like to come down and relax, take down our weekly stress levels from school,” beachgoer Justin Ireland said.
The water that brings so much enjoyment is now the source of one family’s pain.
Henry Konietsky, 59, went fishing for crabs near the Halifax River on Sept. 21, but his daughter said he died 28 hours later.
Officials said Konietsky contracted Vibrio vulnificus from warm seawater.
“They are getting it through a scratch in the skin, a cut, then the Vibrio gets inside and sets up housekeeping,” Seminole County Medical Director Dr. Todd Husty said.
Medical officials said in half of the cases, a person who contracts the bacteria dies once it gets into the blood.
Thirty-five cases were reported in Florida in 2012.
“It’s obviously a big increase in infection right now. It is a warm-water thing. We didn’t have this last year and the year before — not nearly as many,” Husty said.
Health Department officials said Konietsky contracted the bacteria through an open wound.
“If you get it from food, it’s one of the worst and most deadly food poisoning,” Husty said.
Volusia and Flagler health officials said to be sure seafood is well-cooked and beachgoers should avoid the water if they have open wounds.
“I love coming to the beach,” Ireland said. “I am worried, not just for me but for other beachgoers as well.”
Vibrio vulnificus occurs naturally in seawater. In 2007, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention started tracking the illness after an uptick in cases. Most of them happened in states along the Gulf Coast.