July 3, 2019 -- Vibriosis, an infection that is often mild but can turn lethal, may be a bigger threat this summer than usual as experts report the bacteria that cause the infection are showing up in unusual places.
The infection is caused by about a dozen species of vibrio bacteria, the CDC says. One, Vibrio vulnificus, is common along the Southeastern U.S. coast. But experts have found it has migrated farther north, to Delaware Bay, which has slightly cooler waters than the usual locations.
How does infection happen?
For the skin infection caused by vibrio, "The key here is you have an opening in your skin that allows the bacteria to get into it," says Jason Newland, MD, a professor at Washington University in St. Louis.
Bacteria can enter through cuts, scrapes, burns, insect bites, or puncture wounds, the CDC says.
Can you avoid vibriosis?
Good hygiene can lessen the chance of getting a skin infection, says Aaron Glatt, MD, spokesperson for the Infectious Diseases Society of America. If you get a cut or other wound, taking care of it is crucial. Wash it with soap and water, and watch it to be sure it heals well.
Anyone with an open cut should stay out of warm saltwater, where the bacteria thrive.
Don't eat raw or undercooked seafood, especially oysters, to avoid diarrhea, public health officials caution.