June 29, 2023
Cases of vibriosis confirmed in Mobile County
MOBILE, Ala. — There has been a total of four cases of vibriosis reported to the Mobile County Health Department (MCHD) during 2023. These cases have been investigated by MCHD’s Infectious Disease and Outbreaks division.
Two of those cases reported injuries that were exposed to waters connected to the Gulf of Mexico. The latest one was identified as Vibrio vulnificus. Because of patient privacy rights under the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), no additional identifying information will be available to the public.
“To reduce your chance of getting vibriosis, don’t eat raw or undercooked shellfish, such as oysters,” said Dr. Kevin Philip Michaels, Health Officer of Mobile County. “If you have a wound — including from a recent surgery, piercing, or tattoo — avoid contact with salt water or brackish water or cover the wound with a waterproof bandage if there’s a possibility it could come into contact with salt water or brackish water, raw seafood, or raw seafood juices.”
Vibrio bacteria naturally live in certain coastal waters and are present in higher concentrations between May and October when water temperatures are warmer. However, the bacteria can be present throughout the year in some areas. While Vibrio bacteria can enter the body through a break in the skin, it can also come from consuming contaminated seafood.
• Avoid eating raw or undercooked shellfish. Cook foods to recommended temperatures.
• Avoid exposure of open wounds (including cuts and scrapes) to salt and brackish waters.
If a person gets a cut while in the water, immediately wash the wound with soap and fresh water. If the wound shows any signs of infection (redness, pain, and/or swelling) or the cut is deep, seek medical attention immediately.
The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) has issued a flyer, “Prevention and Control Measures: Vibriosis (non-Cholera causing species),” for students, parents, and patients to learn more about Vibrio.
Of the more than 70 species of Vibrio that exist, about a dozen can cause human illness — known as vibriosis. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that annually in the United States, 80,000 individuals become sick with vibriosis, and 100 die from their infection.
During 2022, there were six cases of vibriosis reported to MCHD.