CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A race against time: doctors are hustling to develop a vaccine for Vibrio, a flesh-eating bacteria that lives naturally in the water.
By the time the vaccine is ready in 2030, doctors think more people will need it because water everywhere is getting warmer.
Vibrio needs a mix of fresh and saltwater and warm temperatures and it's in the country's bays where those conditions allow the bacteria to thrive.
There are new cases just reported in the Chesapeake and Delaware bays all the way down to Texas where Robbie Siler contracted Vibrio last month.
He lost his left leg after contracting the bacteria last month.
Gary Evans died in June after spending time in the same bay.
The CDC tracks Vibrio, saying 77 people contracted the illness in the Carolinas in the most recent year with available statistics.
Experts say the number of confirmed cases is increasing because testing for the bacteria is becoming easier.
While people with open wounds should never go into the water, the most common way to contract Vibrio is by eating shellfish, which is why scientists are working with the FDA to test oysters.
"If your seafood is cooked, the vibrio bacteria are killed and they do not pose a problem, whatsoever," Texas A&M Galveston Campus lab manager Mona Hochman said. "But in people who are immuno-compromised, those people need to be really careful in eating undercooked or raw seafood."
So, while the bacteria itself is nothing new, a change in temperature and testing account for the hundreds of confirmed cases we're seeing across the country this year.