5 things to know about the potentially deadly bacteria in the Florida coast

The Florida Department of Health issued its annual release reminding people in the Florida Gulf to be wary of bacteria that can cause potentially deadly infections. Read on for five things to know about the bacteria and its history in the United States.

1. The bacterium is called Vibrio vulnificus and is commonly found in warm seawater, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is part of a group of bacteria called "halophilic" because they require salt.

2. While infections from V. vulnificus are rare, there have already been eight confirmed cases of infections in Florida this year, two of which have resulted in death, according to the Florida Department of Health. In 2014, there were 32 confirmed cases and seven deaths.

3. Infections can occur in people who eat contaminated seafood or who are exposed to seawater when they have an open wound. Infections caused by exposing an open wound to warm seawater can lead to a skin breakdown and ulceration. Infections in an immunocompromised patient can get into the bloodstream and potentially be fatal.

4. V. vulnificus infections should be treated immediately with antibiotics, according to the CDC, with aggressive attention given to the wound site. Amputation of an infected limb is "sometimes necessary," according to the CDC.

5. In a follow-up news release from the Florida Department of Health, the department reiterated that the bacterium does not pose a risk to normally healthy people who swim in the ocean and that V. vulnificus infections are rare, calling its beaches and water "safe to enjoy responsibly" and that "risk of infection is minimal if you take proper precautions."

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