Health officials warn of increase in flesh-eating bacteria cases following Ian

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Health officials in Florida are warning residents of an increase in dangerous flesh-eating bacteria cases in the wake of Hurricane Ian.

Vibrio vulnificus is an infectious bacterium often found lurking in brackish and warm ocean waters. It is commonly known as flesh-eating bacteria.


UCF assistant professor of medicine Dr. Salvador Almagro-Moreno has been researching bacterial pathogens for nearly two decades and said the aggressive bacterium is considered the “hyenas of the ocean”.

According to the Florida Department of Health, there have been a record 64 infections reported this year — of those cases, 13 have been fatal, including one case in Seminole County.

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“That hurricane brought them in inland, and also because of the nature of the hurricane, a lot of people were walking into these brackish waters,” Almagro-Moreno said.

Almagro-Moreno said while infections are rare, people do need to be cautious.

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“Don’t become paranoid, but don’t take it lightly,” he said.

Moreno said if you have an open wound or scratches, stay out of floodwaters and standing waters.

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More information on vibrio vulnificus can be found here.

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Matt Reeser

Matt Reeser, WFTV.com

Matt Reeser joined WFTV in 1998 as a news photographer and has worked for television stations in Kentucky and West Virginia.