Medical experts share knowledge on Vibrio bacteria - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Medical experts share knowledge on Vibrio bacteria

The experts say Vibrio is not unique to the Gulf Coast. (Photo source: WLOX) The experts say Vibrio is not unique to the Gulf Coast. (Photo source: WLOX)
Despite the warnings for our waters, Byers says the most common source to the bacteria is raw or uncooked seafood, especially oysters.  (Photo source: WLOX) Despite the warnings for our waters, Byers says the most common source to the bacteria is raw or uncooked seafood, especially oysters. (Photo source: WLOX)
GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) -

When important topics affect our coastal economy and region, the best thing to do is bring in experts to make sense of any confusion. If you haven't been out to enjoy the beaches of the Gulf Coast because of the "flesh-eating" bacteria scare, you'll be relieved to know that our coastal waters are safer than you think.

There are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to one of several bacterias popularly known as a flesh-eating, so Mississippi health officials held a forum to arm beach goers and seafood lovers with data instead of fear.

"Vibrio is an infection that we've tracked for many years, and we see reports of it every year," said Dr. Paul Byers, with the Mississippi State Department of Health.

There are several kinds of Vibrio that can cause infections, but the one we're most familiar with is Vibrio vulnificus.

"This is a bacteria that is in the sea water, and it requires somebody to be exposed to and at risk to get that infection," Byers explained.

How and when do we know that we're at risk?

"It's those people who are already set up for risks for infections. Those folks who already have an immune compromise," Byers said.

Despite the warnings for our waters, Byers says the most common source to the bacteria is raw or uncooked seafood, especially oysters. That's were Dr. Kelly Lucas, with the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources, comes in.

"They're making sure that once the seafood comes out of the water, essentially, the handling process that goes along with it is safe, so that when it reaches us as consumers, we feel very confident about the product," Lucas said.

The experts say Vibrio is not unique to the Gulf Coast. In fact, the bacteria appears in all coastal oceans, and its numbers fluctuate as a function of temperature, salinity and nutrients.

To educate yourself more about Vibrio and other bacterias, visit http://www.cdc.gov/vibrio/vibriov.html.

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