State health officials warn of vibrio bacteria after 3 die in July

CARTERET COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) – Three individuals from North Carolina died in July after being exposed to vibrio bacteria.

Vibrio is a bacteria that is active in warm sea water during the late summer and early fall months.

“It is found usually in brackish water, not usually in like an ocean water,” said Dr. Robert Glatz. “Maybe water that’s not being real circulated.”

Though the bacteria is rare in North Carolina, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services recorded 47 total cases and 8 deaths since 2019.

“Open wounds are a big risk factor,” said Dr. Glatz. “If you have open wounds maybe on your legs or anywhere, water could get to the wound. I would avoid getting that type of exposure.”

Two of the three recent deaths related to scratches on their body that were exposed to brackish water along the coast of North Carolina. The other one took place in another state along the east coast. The third person who was exposed ate seafood they caught on their own.

“It’s from eating raw shellfish,” said Dr. Glatz. “Raw oysters are really at their height especially this time of year. They would be a high risk. Cooked oysters and shellfish would be okay, but raw is not really a good idea.”

Health experts inform people about the deaths one by one. They want everyone to know which precautions to take next time they go into the water.

“It is very prominent in the late summer and fall months,” said Dr. Glatz. “Along the coast, we have to be really careful of this bacteria. It can be deadly.”

If you go into salty or brackish water with a wound, get out immediately and wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water.

North Carolina Department and Health and Human Services say that water temperature rising is related to to climate change, which causes more vibrio cases.