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Texas Man Hospitalized With Vibrio From Gulf Waters

Todar's Online Textbook of Bacteriology
Vibrio vulnificus is a bacterium that lives in the warm waters of the Gulf.

As people flock to Texas beaches this month, some unseen threats to their health are living in the water. A South Texas man is hospitalized with a serious infection.


A science teacher from Ingleside is being treated for vibrio vulnificus infection. That’s a germ that lurks in the warm waters of the Gulf. He’s being treated at UT Medical Branch in Galveston, and reports say he may have to have his arm amputated.

Medical Director of San Antonio Metropolitan Health District, Dr. Junda Woo, says the microorganism can be virulent. "If you get it in your blood through an open cut it can be deadly, and usually just within a day or two," Woo said. "It can spread very quickly."

The South Texas man had been wade fishing in Rockport when he was exposed. It’s a yearly seasonal threat, from May to October. Last year, there were more than a hundred reported cases in Texas.

Woo suggests if you have an open wound and you’re heading for the coast, stay out of the water to avoid potential exposure to the bacteria. "Unfortunately, it’s safer to just avoid that. You can still go to swimming pools and you can have fun in other ways," Woo said.

A less serious form of infection can be acquired by eating raw contaminated seafood. Those patients usually recover in a few days.

Wendy Rigby is a San Antonio native who has worked as a journalist for more than 25 years. She spent two decades at KENS-TV covering health and medical news. Now, she brings her considerable background, experience and passion to Texas Public Radio.