Vibrio vulnificus: What you need to know about - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Vibrio vulnificus: What you need to know about

Dr. Penico says those with weakened immune systems are most susceptible to contracting the bacteria. (Image Source: WLOX News) Dr. Penico says those with weakened immune systems are most susceptible to contracting the bacteria. (Image Source: WLOX News)
The bacteria don’t just lurk in the Gulf Waters, it can be found in Gulf seafood as well. (Image Source: WLOX News) The bacteria don’t just lurk in the Gulf Waters, it can be found in Gulf seafood as well. (Image Source: WLOX News)
GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) -

Singing River Health System is treating their first case of vibrio vulnificus for 2017, and the state department of health has had seven reported cases so far. 

Dr. Jesse Penico treats infectious diseases at Memorial Hospital and says seen his fair share of patients with the infection. 

“It's rapidly progressive gangrene, and so you'll have pain, swelling, redness and it will progress in a matter of hours,” said Dr. Penico.

The bacteria thrive in salty brackish waters like the Mississippi Sound, primarily during the warmest months of the year.

“We probably have more of it along here because we have warmer temperatures. The Gulf gets warm and the bacteria grow better with that degree of warmth,” said Dr. Penico.

Dr. Penico says those with weakened immune systems are most susceptible to contracting the bacteria, but lifestyles could also lead to having a compromised immune system.

“If you have underlying hepatitis, sorosis of whatever cause, or you still drink too much alcohol, you're at risk,” said Dr. Penico.

According to Dr. Penico, the bacteria can enter the body through the smallest cut, which is why it's important beach goers protect themselves. 

“First, if you have those pre-existing conditions that would lay you open to getting such an infection, you probably ought not get into the water,” said Dr. Penico.

The bacteria don’t just lurk in the Gulf Waters. It can be found in Gulf seafood as well.

“You can get it internally. We have had cases of people consuming raw oysters and coming down with an internal case,” said Dr. Penico.

Penico says he treated a relatively small number of cases last year, but saw eight patients in 2015. He hopes people heed the warnings.

“I would rather have a year like last year than the year before,” said Dr. Penico.

Click here for more information about vibrio and Gulf waters.

Copyright 2017 WLOX. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly