Vibrio bacteria can cause severe infections. They are naturally found in coastal, brackish water such as the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. Levels of Vibrio bacteria usually go up as water temperatures get warmer.
People with liver disease, diabetes, weakened immune systems, iron overload disease(hemochromatosis), and people taking stomach acid reducers are at increased risk of severe infection. Vibrio infection can occur from contact with the water or when people cut themselves on objects or shellfish that have come from the water. In Maryland, this sometimes happens when people handle live crabs or crab traps. Vibrio infection can also come from eating raw or undercooked shellfish, often oysters.
- Avoid water contact if you have any skin wounds or infections, especially if you have a condition that puts you at higher risk of severe infection. If that is not possible, cover wounds with water proof bandage.
- Avoid cuts by wearing water shoes and by using caution while handling crabbing equipment and live crabs.
- Carry hand sanitizer so that wounds that occur during water contact can be cleansed immediately.
- Always shower following contact with natural waters.
- People at higher risk of severe infection should avoid eating raw or undercooked shellfish such as oysters and crabs.
If signs or symptoms of a skin infection occur after contact with the water, see a healthcare provider right away.