Swimming advisories due to different type of bacteria

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control is clarifying that that beach swimming advisories issued for Delaware beaches are due to elevated levels of enterococcus bacteria and are not related to vibrio bacteria.  

Vibriosis is a particularly horrific infection caused by flesh-eating bacteria found in salt- and brackish water. DNREC tests the water for a fecal indicator bacteria, enterococcus, which can cause illnesses, but none so extreme as vibrio.

Enterrococcus is found in the gut of warm-blooded animals. Enterococcus found on Delaware shores often originates from wildlife and can wash into the nearshore waters, making swimming unsafe. When DNREC issues a swimming advisory, it is due to unsafe levels of enterococcus, not vibro.

Cases of vibrio vulnificus bacterial infections have recently been reported in New Jersey and Maryland, but none to date this year have been reported in Delaware. There was an unconfirmed report of vibrio contracted in the Sinepuxent Bay in Ocean City, Maryland, in June. Also in June, a Florida woman died after contracting vibriosis.

Experts speculate vibrio is become more prevalent due to climate change and rising water temperatures.

According to the Centers For Disease Control, vibriosis causes about 80,000 illnesses and 100 deaths in the United States annually. Infection is caused by consuming raw or under-cooked seafood or exposing a wound to seawater.

Most people with mild cases recover after about three days with no lasting effects, but those with an infection can get seriously ill, requiring intensive care and/or limb amputation. About one in five people with this type of infection die, sometimes within a day or two of becoming ill.

Find out more about vibriosis here.