HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Al Garcia caught the attention of the Commission on Marine Resources after the Hancock County shrimper came close to losing his legs after contracting the vibrio virus on a shrimping trip.
Now, the Department of Marine Resources is educating commercial fishermen about the potential risk of coming in contact with the bacteria.
"I know this gentleman in Hancock County is doing well now, but he fought for his life. He was on the borderline of dying from that. So, that's why it's important to me that we get it out to the fishermen, so they understand," said Marine Resources Commissioner Ernie Zimmerman.
Around 600 commercial fishermen will soon receive fliers in the mail educating them about the presence of vibrio bacteria and the associated risk.
"What we want commercial fishermen to know is if they're at risk, if they're one of the categories that are at risk for being injured or harmed by vibrio, they need to be aware of this," said DMR chief scientific officer, Dr. Kelly Lucas, "So that is why we're mailing out the information. Just to provide them with a little more education related to vibrio illness."
Fishermen can also access information about vibrio on the DMR web site.
"First of all I wanted to bring your attention to the web site. The front page of our web site we now have a link that includes vibrio information," said DMR executive director, Jamie Miller.
Dr. Lucas says while it's a good thing to educate commercial fishermen about the potential risk of vibrio bacteria, there's no need for people to be frightened about people getting in the water.
"I think what people need to know though is that generally it's safe. If you are not in the category of at risk, then it's safe for you to go in the water," said Dr. Lucas.
"If we can save one person from getting this vibrio, it's all worth it," said commissioner Zimmerman.
Even though there's been a lot of publicity this summer about cases of vibrio infection, Dr. Lucas says statistics show the number of cases is about normal.
She says the increased attention is mostly media-driven.