Health officials are warning residents of Volusia and Flagler counties of a bacteria found in warm seawater or raw shellfish.

The Florida Department of Helath in Volusia County issued a statement Friday, citing 26 Vibrio vulnificus cases so far this year in the state, with one in Flagler County and two in Volusia County.

Officials said nine of those cases have been fatal.

According to the CDC, the infection is caused by contaminated seafood or exposure of an open wound to seawater.

Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.

Those who are immunocompromised or have a chronic liver disease are especially susceptible, health officials said.

The health department provided the following tips for preventing an infection:

  • Avoid exposure of open wounds or broken skin to warm salt or brackish water, or to raw shellfish harvested from such waters.
  • Wear protective clothing (e.g., gloves) when handling raw shellfish.
  • Do not eat raw oysters or other raw shellfish.
  • Cook shellfish (oysters, clams, mussels) thoroughly.
  • For shellfish in the shell, either a) boil until the shells open and continue boiling for 5 more minutes, or b) steam until the shells open and then continue cooking for 9 more minutes. Do not eat those shellfish that do not open during cooking. Boil shucked oysters at least 3 minutes, or fry them in oil at least 10 minutes at 375°F.
  • Avoid cross-contamination of cooked seafood and other foods with raw seafood and juices from raw seafood.
  • Eat shellfish promptly after cooking and refrigerate leftovers. 

Learn more about the bacteria on the CDC website.