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Water warning: Flesh-eating bacteria thriving

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Updated: 10/11/2013 4:13 pm
YULEE, Fla. -- News of a water-borne bacteria making people sick didn't slow things down at the Fernandina Marina.

"Everyone is out in force. Doing good, you know," said marina worker Cray Sellers.

But he said George Clarke is on their minds. Clarke, 79, is Nassau County's first vibrio vulnificus infection of the year. He was infected last weekend after a crab pinch on the Nassau River.

Kim Geib with the Nassau County Health Department said, "This bacteria lives everywhere all the time."

She said there are two ways the bacteria can get into your blood stream. One is through an open cut or sore. It can cause the skin to break down. The other way is by eating tainted seafood.

"Particularly oysters," she said.

So far, the bacteria has sickened 27 people around the Florida, killing nine. Health officials say that's about average. The same number of people died last year. The record was 13 deaths in 2011.

Geib said boaters and fishermen "need to just be aware."

[CDC: Fact sheet on Vibrio Vulnificus]

She said the bacteria is thriving because the water is warm. People with compromised immune systems are the most vulnerable.

She recommends you stay out of the water if you have an open wound, and cook your seafood thoroughly.
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