Oct 17, 2022 - Health

Florida sees surge in deadly bacterial infections post-Hurricane Ian

Photo of a red stop sign half submerged in flood water

Sidewalk benches are seen underwater as the St. Johns River reaches major flood stage, causing Lake Monroe to breach the sea wall in Sanford, Fla., in the aftermath of Hurrican Ian. Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Florida is reporting a surge in deadly infections caused by the bacteria Vibrio vulnificus in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian.

Driving the news: Lee County alone has recorded 29 cases and 4 deaths as of Friday, according to Florida's Department of Health. The state's overall numbers have risen to 65 cases and 11 deaths, compared to 34 cases and 10 deaths in 2021.

Details: Found in warm, brackish water, Vibrio vulnificus usually enters human bodies through the consumption of raw or undercooked seafood, though it can also cause infections through open wounds, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  • Infections can be severe for people with weakened immune systems, though the bacteria can't be spread person to person.

The big picture: Lee County health officials issued an Oct. 3 notice shortly after Ian made landfall warning residents "to take precautions against infection and illness" caused by the bacteria.

  • Residents should stay out of floodwater, standing water, sea water and brackish water when possible, especially if they have open wounds or cuts.

Go deeper: How you can help Hurricane Ian recovery efforts

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