Vibrio vulnificus "flesh-eating" bacteria is not related to Texas Beach Watch advisories. For more information on Texas Beach Watch, visit this page.


Vibrio vulnificus "Flesh-eating" Bacteria

About Vibrio vulnificus

Vibrio vulnificus is not associated with pollution and is not unique to the Gulf of Mexico, Texas or Galveston. The bacteria is naturally present in salt and brackish water around the world. Infections from Vibrio vulnificus are rare and typically affect people with pre-existing health conditions who had open cuts or sores when they came into contact with the bacteria. 

More than 10 million people visited Texas beaches in 2015 and less than 0.00035% acquired Vibrio vulnificus. Most of those who get infections recover without long-term health consequences. By comparison, 100 times as many people were killed in vehicle crashes in Texas during the same year.

Pre-existing Conditions

People with diabetes, liver disease, cancer or other immune suppressing conditions who swim in untreated water with open cuts or sores are at an increased risk for Vibrio vulnificus. Healthy people are extraordinarily less likely to get an infection than the ill.   

Precautions 

Swimming in natural bodies of water anywhere comes with risk. To reduce it, beachgoers with open cuts or sores, especially those with pre-existing conditions, should avoid swimming or check with their doctor first.

People who suffer cuts while in natural bodies of water anywhere should immediately leave the water, thoroughly clean the wound and do not return until the wound heals. It’s important to keep an eye on the area for infection or swelling. If either occur, medical attention should be obtained immediately. Vibrio vulnificus infections are treatable, especially if caught early. Wearing water shoes while swimming and gloves or waders while fishing can help prevent cuts.

There is no testing program for Vibrio vulnificus bacteria because it's naturally occurring in beach water.

Beach Water Safety Infographic

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