What to know about vibrio bacteria before heading to Texas beaches

Vibrio case reported in Texas Gulf Coast

SAN ANTONIO – The case of a man who became infected with a flesh-eating bacteria during a recent trip to the Texas Gulf Coast has raised concerns across the state as the Fourth of July weekend approaches.

The man became infected with vibrio after spending Father’s Day weekend at a Port Aransas beach. Other reports said he also spent time in Rockport.

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Port Aransas officials issued a press release saying vibrio vulnificus has not been confirmed in Port Aransas and the reports are speculative.  

Thousands of Texans and tourists visit the beach year-round, and according to the Galveston County Health District’s website, it is rare that people get an infection from vibrio and most people recover from the infection without long-term complications. 

Texas Beach Watch tracks bacteria advisory levels across the state and as of Thursday, only one beach, Matagorda County Jetty Park, had a high bacteria level. The map is updated daily. 

(Below is a map of the current bacteria levels via Texas Beach Watch.) 

Officials offered tips on vibrio and how can you avoid contracting the bacteria if you plan to visit a Texas beach this summer.

According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Service, vibrio infections have been reported in Texas for many years. 

Texas had 43 diagnosed Vibrio infections and seven deaths in 2015.  

Vibrio vulnificus causes skin ulcerations and fever. It is contracted from infested seawater and causes vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. In extreme cases, it can cause death if the patient ate raw or undercooked and infected shellfish.

The Wildlife Service website says this year hasn’t been any worse than previous years, but has received more attention and questions. 

The bacteria lives in coastal waters around the world and is usually more prevalent in summer months when the waters are warmer. 

The Wildlife Service website says there are two main things to know about the bacteria: 

1. Don’t come in contact with any coastal, bay or Gulf waters if you have open sores or cuts.

If you get a cut while in the water, immediately wash it with soap and freshwater. If it shows any signs of infection (redness, pain or swelling) or if the cuts are deep, get medical treatment as soon as you can.

2. Eat only fully cooked shellfish, especially if you are susceptible to liver problems or have a chronic health condition like diabetes or a weakened immune system. Make sure the shellfish were not caught in infested water.


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