The Town Talk reports the bacteria known as Vibria vulnificus – which is found in warm seawater – killed the 83-year-old man after his open wound got infected when water splashed on him during a fishing trip.
“It thrives in warm water,” Dr. Tina Stefanski of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals told KATC-TV. “So, you can imagine in the summer months we see an increased number of this type of bacteria in warm salt water.”
The department is warning swimmers and beach-goers to be careful in the warm water, especially ones with open wounds.
“We certainly do not mean to discourage people from enjoying water activities, but we want them to understand the potential risks involved,” Department Secretary Kathy Kliebert told The Town Talk. “DHH works with other state and local partners to monitor and test beach water to inform residents of the water quality and we hope residents will heed posted beach advisories when they see them.”
Three others swimming in the Louisiana Gulf coast were sickened from the bacteria. Sheila Lord, who is on vacation, is not tempted to get into the water.
“I’m a little bit nervous about it to be honest,” Lord told KATC. “You know you just don’t want to get sick. I’m on vacation. It would be horrible if I had to go back home with something.”