The infection can also be transmitted through eating or handling contaminated oysters and other shellfish, according to the CDC.
Vibrio vulnificus –- a cousin of the bacterium that causes Cholera –- thrives in warm saltwater, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If ingested, it can cause stomach pain, vomiting and diarrhea. But it can also infect open wounds and lead to “skin breakdown and ulceration,” according to the CDC. “Since it is naturally found in warm marine waters, people with open wounds can be exposed to Vibrio vulnificus through direct contact with seawater,” the Florida Department of Health said in a statement. source
At least 11 Floridians have contracted Vibrio vulnificus so far this year and two have died, according to the most recent state data. In 2013, 41 people were infected and 11 died. The proportion of skin and gastrointestinal infections is unclear.