Health Department Warns of Vibrio Hazards

May 15, 2013

vibrioOur local waterways offer county residents and visitors alike great recreational opportunities and seafood delicacies. However, as the waters warm up and the dry days of summer approach, the Calvert County Health Department reminds residents to be aware of potential hazards from the common Vibrio bacteria. Find out more from the health department.

Vibrio species are natural inhabitants of sea water. Noncholera Vibrio infections are classified into two groups: those that require salt water for growth, and those that do not. The prevalence of noncholera Vibrio infections in the United States have increased in recent years. The combination of increased water temperature and salinity where shellfish are harvested may contribute to the increased contamination rates of shellfish.

All infections due to Vibrio species are reportable in Maryland. From 2006 – 2010, Maryland reported 168 cases and Calvert reported 10 cases. In calendar year 2010, Maryland reported 44 cases and Calvert reported four cases. Three of those four cases in Calvert were diagnosed as Vibrio wound infections, (two Vibrio Parahaemolyticus, one Vibrio Fluvialis) and one by consumption, (Vibrio Parahaemolyticus).

Most Vibrio infections cause gastrointestinal illness and are associated with the consumption of contaminated shellfish; however, Vibrio can also cause severe skin infections in an open area of skin exposed to warm salt water.

Since Vibrio species are normally found in the Chesapeake Bay and rivers, it is important not to swim if you have an open wound. All open skin areas should be evaluated by a health care provider if showing signs and symptoms of infection such as redness, soreness, swelling or drainage after water contact. Also, to avoid becoming ill by consuming a vibrio species, you should eat only shellfish that is cooked.

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