If you're headed to the sunny, southern beaches of Florida this summer, you might want to think twice about taking a dip in the water. As it so happens, there's a deadly bacteria thriving beneath the waves, and the Florida Department of Health says it's already killed nearly a dozen people. Total bummer.
On Monday, the health department issues new warnings that pleaded with locals and tourists with weakened immune systems or open wounds to think twice before they decide to take a swim. The bacteria, named Vibrio vulnificus, causes necrosis and lives in warm saltwater.
"Since it is naturally found in warm marine waters, people with open wounds can be exposed to Vibrio vulnificus through direct contact with seawater," the Florida Department of Health said in a statement.
So far, 32 people have contracted the bacteria, with 10 dying thanks to the contact. Last year, the department reported 41 infections and 11 deaths.
Most of the cases have been from the Gulf Coast, meaning that those with plans to hit the Gulf Islands National Seashore, Panama City Beach, or any other beaches along the western coast of Florida should inspect their bodies for open wounds before swimming, and if they do swim, be sure they're hosed down before they head home, or else you could end up looking something like this:
"It's definitely something to take serious, but there are a number of other bacteria, that you could run into," Tim O'Connor, a spokesperson for the Florida Department of Health, told ABC Action News.
The state health department told reporters that they're monitoring the situation and reassured the public that if they take the proper precautions, they'll avoid the painful, creeping death that comes with the infection.
Stay safe out there!