Officials warn of ocean bacteria

MIAMI (UPI) — Wading in the ocean to let salt water heal cuts and scrapes is not always a good idea, health experts say, as bacteria can proliferate in summer months.

A little known, deadly bacteria called Vibrio vulnificus can infect open wounds of beach goers and cause a life-threatening illness in those with weakened immune systems, The Miami Herald reported Friday.

he bacteria, which occur naturally in warm coastal waters, infected 138 people in Florida between 2005 and 2009 and 31 of them died, the Florida Department of Health said.

“The high mortality rate makes it a big deal,” Juan A. Suarez, an epidemiologist for FDH, said.

The bacteria proliferate in waters where temperature and salinity are increasing, particularly between the months of April and November, Suarez said.

“It’s a particularly difficult organism because it doesn’t affect everyone.” he said. “Most healthy people will not respond to the organism. They are probably not at risk.”

But he advised all people to heal their cuts and scrapes through other means, not ocean water.

“It’s probably not a good idea, even if you’re healthy, to go into the water with an open wound,” Suarez said.

Copyright 2010 by United Press International

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

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