MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - One man is dead and another was hospitalized after exposure to a rare bacteria in southern Mobile County waters.
Vibrio vulnificus is a rare bacteria that can infect open wounds, appearing to eat the flesh of the infected site.
But Mobile County Health Department officials said, contrary to previous reports, the bacteria does not actually eat human flesh.
Officials said the men were crabbing in Heron Bay and Alabama Port.
One man got a cut from a crab trap carrying the bacteria. The other had an open wound that was exposed to it.
Health officials said the bacteria thrive in warm, brackish water. They urge people with cuts or open wounds to be cautious when swimming in swampy waters.
"The bacteria will naturally gravitate toward the open wound. That's when the problems start,” said Mobile County Health Department Director of Disease Control and Environmental Health Monica Zieman Knight.
Direct contact isn't the only way you can get infected.
"You can also get vibrio from eating raw seafood, raw oysters particularly,” explained Knight. “So I just caution folks to be aware that there is some risk in consuming raw or undercooked types of seafood."
If infected, you might feel flu-like symptoms such as nausea, fever, or diarrhea, and should see a doctor as soon as possible.
"The vibrio gets in to your bloodstream, it can cause septicemia which is an infection all throughout your bloodstream and in some cases it will cause your skin to die off,” said Knight.
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