What Is Vibrio Vulnificus? Florida Issues Warning Over Deadly Flesh-eating Bacteria

Florida officials have issued a warning about a deadly flesh-eating bacteria that can be contracted by eating seafood or getting sea water in open cuts.

The state's department of health has warned tourists and residents about the Vibrio vulnificus bacteria, which is most prevalent in the warmer months of the year, urging people to take precautions.

"People can get infected with Vibrio vulnificus when they eat raw shellfish, particularly oysters," the Florida Department of Health warned. "The bacterium is frequently isolated from oysters and other shellfish in warm coastal waters during the summer months. Since it is naturally found in warm marine waters, people with open wounds can be exposed to Vibrio vulnificus through direct contact with seawater."

Officials warned that people suffering from weakened immune systems should wear foot protection while on the beach to avoid getting cuts that could become infected with the bacteria.

Although infection is rare, the bacteria is deadly, with one in three people infected with the flesh-eating bacteria dying from it, the Palm Beach Post reported, also explaining the bacteria is not truly flesh eating but is referred to as such because the skin lesions it causes resemble streptoccus A.

According to the CDC, more than 200 cases are diagnosed across the U.S. every year, with quick antibiotic treatment necessary for improving the chances of survival.

Surfers pictures in Florida. People have been warned not to go into the water with open wounds. Reuters

In some cases of the infection, limb removal is necessary in places where tissue had died, the CDC explained.

In order to avoid the deadly bacteria, Florida's health department urged people to stay out of the water if they have fresh cuts or wounds, avoid raw shellfish and cook seafood thoroughly before eating it.

In addition, tourists and residents are advised to wear protective gloves when handling raw shellfish and to clean any open wounds after swimming in seawater.