Water-Related News

Lee, Collier Counties led state last year in Vibrio infections

Vibrio vulnificus infections aren’t the type of thing the region’s paradise promoters necessarily want to talk about, yet there were more potentially deadly cases documented in Lee and Collier counties last year than anywhere else in Florida.

It’s commonly called flesh-eating disease, a not-quite-accurate nickname that makes public health officials cringe, because the microbes that cause it don’t really eat people; the toxins they produce can destroy soft tissue, and, in serious cases, cause death. Symptoms after contact include: chills, fever, swelling, blistering, skin lesions, severe pain, low blood pressure and discharge from the wound. Without treatment, death can occur in just a few days.

Since 2008, Vibrio vulnificus has infected 346 people in Florida, killing 99 — more than 28 percent of those who contracted the disease. Last year, the bacteria infected 49 people in Florida, killing 11 of them, which is one more death and three more infections over 2016.

The top-five counties were:

  • Collier: 5 cases, 1 death
  • Lee: 4 cases, 1 death
  • Hillsborough: 4 cases, 0 deaths
  • Sumter: 3 cases, 0 deaths
  • St. Johns: 2 cases, 2 deaths