Vibrio Vulnifcus is an infection caused by bacteria found in salt water that is warm.
The bacterium is in the same family as the one that causes cholera. Thus far, in 2013, there have been 31 confirmed cases of the infection in Florida, by the strain that is the severest vibrio, and 10 people have died.
Health officials in Florida said a person could contract the disease in two ways: tainted raw shellfish most commonly oysters or when a person who has an open wound comes into contact with seawater that has the bacterium.
In Alabama this week, officials from the state health department said two males were diagnosed recently with vibrio vulnifuicus. One of the two died last month and the other is currently hospitalized.
Both of the men were working with crab traps in warm saltwater.
While these occurrences could be a concern to health officials in states with miles and miles of coastlines and tourism dependent economies, experts said the bacterium is not something most people should be concerned with.
The bacteria usually exist in salt water and for the most part affect only those with immune systems that are compromised. Symptoms of the bacteria include diarrhea, vomiting as well as pain in the abdomen. If the bacterium enters the bloodstream it provokes symptoms that include chills, fever, blistering wounds on the skin and decreased blood pressure.
Health officials said they believe the Gulf of Mexico is as safe to see as it was 10 years ago.
In other Gulf States, reports of other illnesses that are waterborne have been in the news, but they too are very rare. In fresh water, the amoeba Naegleria fowleri usually lives off bacteria from the sediment in rivers and lakes.
However, if it goes up a person’s nose high enough, it is able to get inside the brain and kill the person. Fatalities from this have been reported in Arkansas, Florida and Louisiana this year.