PALM COAST — Central Florida health officials are warning residents about seawater bacteria after a man died from exposure this week.
Authorities in Flagler and Volusia counties are advising residents to avoid eating raw shellfish and exposing open wounds in seawater. The Daytona Beach News-Journal reports that 59-year-old Henry "Butch" Konietzky died Monday after he was exposed to bacteria called Vibrio vulnificus. He had been fishing for crabs in the Halifax River. Statewide, 29 cases and nine deaths have been linked to the bacteria this year. Vibrio vulnificus is a bacterium that normally lives in warm seawater and is in the same family as cholera. Symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pain.
Health officials say people should wear gloves and wash their hands after handling raw shellfish.
In the case of Henry Konietzky, his daughter Sheila said he noticed lesions on his legs several hours after fishing and went to the emergency room with his wife. But the bacteria had already spread through his body, causing his kidneys to shut down. "We are still in shock," Sheila Konietzky said. "What's really devastating is that he fished his whole life. For something like this to take him away from us so quickly, without warning, is really scary."