Flesh-eating bacteria outbreak triggers warnings along Florida coast

By Travis Gettys
Tuesday, October 15, 2013 12:57 EDT
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An early morning beach goer looks out over the Atlantic Ocean in Florida in 2009. (AFP Photo/Karen Bleier)
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A flesh-eating bacteria has killed 10 people in Florida and infected another 31 this year, and health officials have issued an alert to some swimmers to stay out of the water.

Vibrio vulnificus is typically contracted by consuming raw, tainted oysters, but swimmers with open wounds are advised to stay out of the warm coastal waters where the bacteria thrive.

Symptoms can include diarrhea, extreme abdominal pain and vomiting. If the bacteria enter the bloodstream, symptoms can worsen to include fever, blistering and lowered blood pressure.

Doctors advise swimmers to get out of the water immediately if they cut themselves, because the bacteria can enter the body through wounds and be spread through the bloodstream.

The infection can be deadly for those with weakened immune systems, but it can be treated with antibiotics if caught in time.

The bacteria can cause kidney, liver and other organ failure.

[Image via Agence France-Presse]

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