Summer beach days are for sandcastles, sunscreen and much needed relaxation — but in Alabama, a flesh-eating bacteria is keeping people far from the shores.
Vibrio, a bacteria found in coastal gulf waters, has infected 30 people in Alabama this year, according to . The Alabama Department of Public Health is warning people with cuts, abrasions, and certain health conditions to avoid swimming in the state's warm bodies of salt or brackish waters.
The flesh-eating virus can be contracted while swimming in Vibrio-infested waters or eating seafood from contaminated waters. Those who contract the waterborne bacteria often experience symptoms including skin lesions, wound infections, pain, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, chills and nausea within 24 hours of infection. In some cases, the bacteria can cause limb loss or death.
The state's health department is advising people with open wounds and sores to stay out of the water completely. If you get a cut while in the water, wash the wound with fresh water and soap, and get medical attention immediately. When it comes to seafood, you should avoid eating anything raw or undercooked if you have a weak immune system, cancer, diabetes, liver disease, or other chronic conditions.
Eighty percent of Vibrio cases occur between May and October when warmer temperatures cause a higher concentration of it in the water, according to the . For the majority of cases, people who get medical attention within 24 hours recover, the Mobile County Health Department told . The most important thing is to be cautious when ordering oysters or jumping into the Gulf this summer.