TAMPA,FL (WFLA)- Julie Dickerson is a bit worried by a potentially-deadly bacteria lurking in saltwater. But not enough to stay out of the water, even though she’s only entering knee-deep water. “Obviously, it’s not keeping the people out of the water,” Dickerson said. “And when you’re setting on the beach getting hot, the water is the solution.”
Her mother, sister and little niece, though, decided to stay parked safely on the beach. “Oh, I’ve just read so much about it and I would not recommend it to anyone,” said Carmen Schultz: The family was bit comforted by a sign posted at Ben T. Davis Beach that reads: “No Water Quality Advisory At This Time.”
But some find it a mixed message because the sign comes on the heels of a warning from the Florida Health Department about vibrio vulnificus, found in raw shellfish and warm saltwater. So far this year, the state saw eight cases and two deaths. The department offers a video with advice on its website.
“The way to protect yourself from skin infections from vibrio is by performing good wound care and you do that by covering the wounds with dry clean bandages until they’re healed,” said Dr. Carina Blackmore, Deputy State Epidemiologist.
Health officials say anyone with open wounds or scratches should stay out of the water. And everyone should avoid raw shellfish. In severe cases, the vibrio bacteria can break down the skin, requiring surgery, amputation or even death.
That has Willie Savage’s attention, but for now, he doesn’t plan to avoid the beach. “I just moved here from Georgia,” he said. “I don’t have any open wounds and so far it looks like everyone is enjoying themselves on the beach.”
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