1 dead, 1 sickened in southwest Florida from flesh-eating bacteria

Health officials issue warning against eating raw oysters, exposing open wounds to water

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SARASOTA, Fla. - Health officials have issued a warning against eating raw oysters and exposing open wounds to coastal and inland waters after one person died and another was sickened by a flesh-eating bacteria in southwest Florida.

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Officials said Tuesday that 11 cases were reported statewide in 2014 and 41 cases in 2013. The two Sarasota people who contracted vibrio vulnificus were middle-aged and had medically compromising conditions.

Vibrio is an infection caused by a bacteria found in warm salt water. It's in the same family of bacterium that causes cholera.

The vibrio vulnificus bacteria occur naturally in coastal waters, especially in the summer months. Symptoms include stomach illness, fever or shock after eating raw seafood -- especially oysters -- or a wound infection after exposure to seawater or brackish water.

Health officials said individuals who are immunocompromised should avoid contact with the bacteria.

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