Florida officials have told beachgoers in the Sunshine State to take heed: There's a surge of flesh-eating bacterium that has killed ten and hospitalized dozens over the course of the past few years.
Sure, it doesn't quite have a sizzle as evocative as man-eating sharks, but vibrio vulnificus can be caught in the water or by consuming nature's version of 4 p.m. sushi.
As Florida Department of Health Deputy Press Secretary Pamela Crane explained to the New Times of Broward County, which has had five cases and two deaths since last year:
A person can contract the virus by eating tainted raw shellfish and oysters. And people who swim in seawater who have open wounds are also vulnerable to the bacteria."
Now, Florida wasn't exactly saying not to go into the water, only to be vigilant. As Adam Weinstein pointed out:
Florida doesn't typically require beach shutdowns for bacteria infestations; in fact, 59 percent of its beaches aren't tested for bacteria levels; the others rely on federal funding to carry out periodical tests."
Since the bacteria thrives on warmth and salt and with ocean temperatures (allegedly) rising, Florida isn't the only place where vibrio is going around. On Monday, the Washington Post noted that vibrio cases in the Chesapeake Bay reached a ten-year high of 57 last year after noting only 25 cases in 2002.