As we head into the final weeks of summer, the Dare County Department of Health & Human Services would like to remind the public to be aware of and take preventative measures to reduce their risk of Vibrio infections as well as other recreational water-related illnesses (RWIs).
There has been a notable uptick in reported Vibrio infections recently, not only in Dare County but along the entire East Coast. This is due to increased water temperatures. Warmer temperatures create opportunities for the bacteria, which are naturally occurring in some coastal water, to multiply. Individuals may get Vibrio infections through injuries, such as a puncture wound from finfish or shellfish, exposure of open wounds to warm coastal waters or by eating raw or undercooked shellfish, especially oysters.
Dare County has received three confirmed reports of infections caused by Vibrio bacteria since late July 2023. Of the three cases, there has been one confirmed fatality, with an additional probable case and fatality occurring this week. One case was foodborne, with the individual becoming infected after consuming raw oysters. Three of the reported cases involved individuals who had open wounds or cuts that came into contact with waters in Buzzard Bay in Kill Devil Hills, and the Atlantic Ocean in Nags Head.
In addition to the Vibrio cases, one case of RWI was reported to the Dare County Department of Health & Human Services in July of this year. That case was caused by contact with Cryptosporidium and most likely associated with swimming in the Currituck Sound.
In an effort to further educate the public on enjoying the water more safely, a video has been released providing recommendations to help avoid contracting RWIs. These safety recommendations can help prevent all RWIs, including Vibrio. To view the entire video on RWIs, please see the link below, or visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OeDxwvMCGYM.
For additional safety tips, as well as more detailed information on Vibrio and other types of RWIs, please visit www.DareNC.gov/RWI.