COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. - Southwest Florida hotels are getting so many questions about vibrio vulnificus in the salt water, that the health department is stepping in. It's issuing a statement to all guests in hopes of clearing up confusion.
"I guess we trust that if it was a very serious problem then they would restrict the swimming," said Kevin Orr who is visiting with his wife Rhonda from Gainesville.
The Orrs tell WINK News they're not too concerned about the bacteria and didn't want to cancel their trip to Naples.
"We love it," said Kevin Orr. "It's one of our favorite places in the state."
The state health department has reported 15 cases of vibrio vulnificus so far this year. There's been three deaths from the bacteria. One of them was in Lee County. The Collier County Convention and Visitor's Bureau says local hotel staff were inundated with guests concerned about the bacteria. So, health officials distributed pamphlets to hotel managers to help educate visitors. Some hotels are even emailing it to their guests before their trip.
"A lot of people have been coming down here and asking if this beach has been marked for the bacteria in the water," said Matt Wells who works at Cabana Dan's on Vanderbilt Beach.
Wells said they even have a copy of the pamphlet at the cabana to show customers.
"Some people protective of their kids have come up and asked me and said we're just gonna spend the day at the pool," said Wells.
But, concerns over the bacteria aren't keeping visitors away from Collier County. The tourism department says they don't have reports of any cancellations. Visitation numbers for June were up 4 percent from last year.
The health department says anyone with an open cut, or a weaker immune system should not go in the water. They're also warning people about eating raw shellfish. That is another way people can contract the bacteria.
"I don't really think a little bacteria is gonna stop us," said Rhonda Orr. "No cuts. We're good!"