The Florida Department of Health has reported eight confirmed Vibrio vulnificus infections, including two deaths, so far this year. Vibrio is a naturally occurring bacterium found in warm, brackish seawater. vibrio-cases-florida-406Vibrio infections are rare, and the bacterium does not pose a risk to a normally healthy person (without any open cuts or wounds) who swims in Florida’s coastal waters, the department said. The health department issues a release every year to remind Floridians of ways to protect themselves and minimize exposure to Vibrio vulnificus. More information from the agency is posted here. Florida’s beaches and water are safe to enjoy responsibly, the department noted, adding that risk of infection is minimal for those who take proper precautions. The department will update case counts weekly and posts other educational materials regarding this bacterium. Symptoms of Vibrio infection vary whether the bacterium is ingested in contaminated food or enters the body through an open would. If eaten in food, symptoms of the infection include vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. If contracted through a wound, the infection can cause skin breakdown and ulcers. Shellfish (oysters, clams and mussels) should be thoroughly cooked and eaten promptly after cooking, and raw shellfish should be avoided, health officials advise. Officials recommend that anyone with fresh cut or scrapes not enter seawater. And anyone with a weak or compromised immune system should take extra precautions by wearing proper foot protection to prevent cuts caused by rocks and shells on the beach. Most cases of Vibrio vulnificus infection are treated with antibiotics. In some severe cases of infection, amputation of the infected limb is necessary.