NOAA produces a forecast that tells public health officials in Maryland and Virginia when and where the pathogenic Vibrio vulnificus bacteria is most likely to occur in Chesapeake Bay. From now through late summer, the forecast will provide up to a two-day early warning of the probability of occurrence of Vibrio pathogens, enabling state officials to educate the public and take appropriate measures to reduce the risk of Vibrio infections.
As Chesapeake Bay waters warm, Vibrio vulnificus pathogens become more prevalent. Vibrio bacteria occur naturally in U.S. coastal waters, but certain species and strains can be harmful to human health. Some Vibrio species, most notably Vibrio vulnificus, can cause a skin infection when an open wound is exposed to estuarine waters. Cases are extremely rare, and guidance models such as the NOAA forecast facilitate proactive monitoring and management that further reduce the likelihood of infection.
NCCOS led development of the model used to generate the forecast, which NOAA’s Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services (CO-OPS) helped become operational in November 2018. The operational forecast is available at nowcoast.noaa.gov, under Ecological Forecasts. Daily model guidance for the current day and the following day are available based on average surface temperature and salinity from the NOS Chesapeake Bay Operational Forecast System (CBOFS). Data is also assimilated from the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office’s Chesapeake Bay Interpretive Buoy System (CBIBS) to ensure model accuracy.
For more information about NCCOS’s Vibrio model and to sign up for related updates and notifications via email, visit NCCOS’s Vibrio Predictive Models webpage.