Walton County Health Department advises on concerns of Vibrio vulnificus

August 5, 2014

DOH_logoThrough intensive media exposure and misinformation reaching residents and visitors of Walton County, DOH-Walton wants to educate our partners and the public about Vibrio vulnificus.  Vibrio vulnificus is a bacteria commonly found in all warm brackish and salt water.

Transmission of Vibrio vulnificus can occur to individuals with open wounds going into water where the bacteria is present. Also, the bacteria can be present in raw shellfish, in particular oysters.

Infection from the bacteria is rare, but it can be the cause of a serious medical condition. Individuals at greatest risk of infection are people with weakened immune systems, particularly those with chronic liver disease.

Click here to download FAQ: FAQs-Vibrio-vulnificus

· Vomiting/diarrhea
·  Abdominal pain
·  Fever
· A skin infection may lead to skin breakdown and skin ulcers.

The bacteria can invade the bloodstream, causing a severe illness with symptoms like fever, chills, decreased blood pressure (septic shock) and blistering skin lesions.

To prevent Vibrio vulnificus infections, avoid exposure of open wounds or broken skin to warm salt or brackish water. Cook shellfish (oysters, clams, mussels) thoroughly.

If symptoms develop after exposure to warm brackish or salt water or ingestion of raw shellfish, please seek medical attention immediately.


Florida is known for its beautiful beaches. We are proud to be the home of so many vacation destinations and encourage all residents and visitors to exercise healthy and safe practices when enjoying our state’s wonderful beaches. Beachgoers should remember to use sunscreen, stay hydrated, practice water safety, prevent injury, and be respectful and aware of the animals and organisms that call our coast home.


  • Sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 is recommended.
  • When going outside, apply a liberal amount of sunscreen to all exposed skin, even on cloudy days.
  • Remember to reapply sunscreen to your skin when outdoors for more than two hours, and after swimming, sweating or toweling off.

Stay hydrated:

  • Drink plenty of water when outdoors, especially in the summer heat.
  • Pack bottled water when visiting the beach.
  • Be mindful of the signs of dehydration: Dry mouth, dizziness, lack of sweating, dry skin, low blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, and fatigue.

Water Safety:

  • Pay attention to weather and water conditions such as rip current.
  • Designate a Water Watcher to supervise children playing in and around the water.
  • Learn CPR. Learning CPR empowers you to make a difference and save a life.

Injury prevention:

  • Florida’s beaches are known for soft white sand; however, rocks and shells are a natural part of the beach environment. Watch where you step and avoid sharp rocks and shells.
  • Wear sandals or water shoes to protect your feet on rocky or shelly surfaces.
  • Water and wounds do not mix. Do not enter the water if you have fresh cuts or scrapes.
  • It is important for those who are immune-compromised to wear proper foot protection to prevent cuts and injury caused by rocks and shells on the beach.

Florida’s beach environments:

  • Be respectful of our wildlife. Many animals call Florida’s beaches and coast home.
  • Many animals, such as sea turtles, rely on responsible human behaviors to survive.
  • It is everyone’s responsibility to share the beach with these creatures and be mindful of their home.

The Department works to protect, promote and improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county and community efforts.

Follow us on Twitter at @HealthyFla and on Facebook.  For more information about the Florida Department of Health please visit www.floridahealth.gov or call 850-245-4111.