Vibrio Bacteria in the Indian River Lagoon

By: Dr. Gabby Barbarite (FAU Harbor Branch) Speaker for our October 5 meeting.

Sharp hooks, spines and teeth are some of the dangers that sport fishermen are aware of; however, their biggest threat may be from something they are unable to see! Bacteria of the genus Vibrio are natural inhabitants of coastal waters and are responsible for 80,000 illnesses and 100 deaths in the United States annually. Infections are directly linked to the marine environment and can result from consuming contaminated seafood or exposing a wound during aquatic activities. Florida is a paradise for marine enthusiasts, with nearly half of the state’s aquatic recreation occurring in the Indian River Lagoon and its surrounding waters. About 20% of the state’s Vibrio infections are reported from this region, however despite these health hazards and similarities to other outbreak areas the occurrence of these bacteria remains unexplored. Our study is the first to document local Vibrio hotspots, seasonality and carriers providing a monitoring baseline and a better understanding of their threat to human health. Our goal is promote awareness, prevent exposure and reduce illness, making your time spent on the water as enjoyable and safe as possible. Tune in to find out where, when and how you can encounter these bacteria as well as how you can avoid being infected.

Vibrio

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