After a trip to the hospital and a day and a half later, Konietzky's 59-year-old husband was dead.
The diagnosis: Vibrio vulnificus (vih-BREE'-oh VUHL'-nihf-ih-kus), an infection caused by a bacteria found in warm salt water. It's a distant relative of the bacteria that causes cholera. So far this year, 31 people across Florida have been infected by the severe strain of Vibrio, and 10 have died.
"We knew nothing about this bacteria," she said. Never mind that both she and her husband grew up in Florida and have spent their lives fishing and participating in other water activities.
State health officials say there are two ways to contract the disease: by eating raw, tainted shellfish — usually oysters — or when an open wound comes in contact with bacteria in warm seawater.
In Mobile, Ala., this week health department officials said two men with underlying health conditions were diagnosed with Vibrio vulnificus in recent weeks. One of the men died in September and the other is hospitalized. Both men were tending to crab traps when they came into contact with seawater.
While such occurrences could potentially concern officials in states with hundreds of miles of coastline and economies largely dependent on ocean-related tourism, experts say the bacteria is nothing most people should worry about. Vibrio bacteria exist normally in salt water and generally only affect people with compromised immune systems, they say. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. If the bacteria get into the bloodstream, they provoke symptoms including fever and chills, decreased blood pressure and blistering skin wounds.
31 in Fla. infected by bacteria in salt water - NBC News.com