​​Vibrios are bacteria that occur naturally in estuarine and marine waters worldwide. They are in the same family of bacteria that cause cholera, but there are over 80 species around the world. Many are known to cause infection when people with open wounds  are exposed while swimming, wading, crabbing, or fishing. Not all strains cause human illness.

Vibrios are naturally-occurring bacteria, not pollution. The most significant factors for finding them in surface waters are warm temperatures, salinity, and chlorophyll.

People with open wounds may be exposed through direct contact with the water. If open wounds are exposed, a skin infection may result. These infections may lead to skin breakdown and ulcers. People with weakened immune systems are at higher risk for very serious life threatening illness. Though rare, cases have occurred in Maryland waters. Anyone who suspects this type of infection should see a doctor as soon as possible.

How to Pr​event Infection

​​The only way to prevent infection is to avoid contact with the water. However, the incidence of infection from swimming and other recreational activities in Maryland waters is generally rare.

When water contact cannot be avoided:

  • Cover wounds with waterproof bandages.
  • If quick access to soap and water isn’t possible, carry hand sanitizer so that wounds  can be cleaned immediately. Wear water shoes to avoid cuts and scrapes.
  • Always shower following swimming in natural waters and wash hands before handling food or eating.

The Maryland Department of Health has a fact sheet on Vibriosis (Non-cholera)​.

Human Trafficking GET HELP

National Human Trafficking Hotline - 24/7 Confidential

1-888-373-7888 233733 More Information on human trafficking in Maryland

Customer Service Promise

The State of Maryland pledges to provide constituents, businesses, customers, and stakeholders with friendly and courteous, timely and responsive, accurate and consistent, accessible and convenient, and truthful and transparent services.

Take Our Survey

Help Stop Fraud in State Government

The Maryland General Assembly’s Office of Legislative Audits operates a toll-free fraud hotline to receive allegations of fraud and/or abuse of State government resources. Information reported to the hotline in the past has helped to eliminate certain fraudulent activities and protect State resources.

More Information