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News that Vibrio vulnificus, a bacterium lurking in the Gulf of Mexico and brackish Florida waters, has sickened two — killing one of them — in Sarasota County has locals worried about entering the water and has prompted the Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County to issue guidelines for those concerned about getting sick. With the news from Sarasota, 12 total cases have now been reported in Florida, all but three of them along the Gulf Coast; three vic- tims have died. Last year, 41 infections and 11 deaths were reported in Florida, none of them in Sarasota County. Vibrio vulnificus lives in warm, salty water and can infect humans who consume raw or undercooked shellfish from areas where it is present. It can also infect those with open wounds, such as cuts, scrapes or lesions, and is particularly dangerous to those who are "medically compromised," in the terminology of Health Department spokesperson Dianne Shipley. That especially means "people with weakened immune systems, particularly those with chronic liver disease," according to a fact sheet issued by the state. The two individuals infected in Sarasota County were each "middle-age and had medical Photo by Tiago Fioreze, via Wikimedia Commons SICKENING HEALTH DEPARTMENT ISSUES WARNING FOR WARM WATER BACTERIUM THAT HAS SICKENED 12 AND KILLED THREE IN FLORIDA By Cooper Levey-Baker Associate Editor

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