New Hanover County Health Director speaks out on Vibrio after three reported deaths in N.C.

New Hanover County Health Director speaks out on vibrio after three reported deaths in N.C.
Published: Jul. 28, 2023 at 6:36 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Cooling off in the water is a great way to beat the heat, but the warmer temperatures are helping a potentially dangerous bacteria thrive in some North Carolina waters.

It’s called Vibrio and is already responsible for three deaths in the state.

We spoke with New Hanover County Health Director Jon Campbell, who told us about the risk of the bacteria.

“So this bacteria can be deadly for individuals, especially if they’re highly immunocompromised, those were that’s where we’re going to see the highest risk of death,” said Campbell.

It’s a naturally occurring bacteria that is found in warm brackish or salt waters in coastal areas around the United States.

“Another important factor is we know why oftentimes, we’re at the beach having a good time, someone may accidentally step on a shell or get scratched while in the water. My recommendation would be for that individual to exit the water and certainly cleanse that wound as best they can,” said Campbell.

He says people can become infected with Vibrio through cuts or open wounds that enter the bloodstream.

“First and foremost, if anyone has had any recent surgery or have an injury, and that would result in scratches or healing wounds, they should limit any exposure to any salty water or brackish waters.”

Vibrio not only spreads through spending time in the water but also through uncooked seafood like shellfish and oysters.

Campbell says cases of Vibrio, whether in the water or food, are extremely rare and doesn’t want people to cancel their next beach day.

“What I want the community to understand is that most individuals will not be at a significant risk for Vibrio infection.”

But says it’s best to be aware so you don’t run the risk of a dangerous infection.