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compromising conditions," according to a statement from the local Health Department. The statement adds that those with "liver dis- ease, including Hepatitis C and cirrhosis, are most at risk for developing serious illness," while those with "hemochromatosis (iron overload), diabetes, cancer, stomach disor- ders or any illness or treatment that weakens the immune system," in particular, should avoid raw and undercooked shellfish. Little more is known about the two cases reported in Sarasota County. Shipley tells The Sarasota News Leader the department is still not exactly sure where the local victims were when they became infected, other than that one was fishing. But the precise location mat- ters little, because Shipley says the bacterium is "everywhere." "It's not limited to one beach or another," she points out. Vibrio vulnificus is found in area waters year- round, but higher concentrations develop in the warm summer months. Symptoms of infection through a wound include "swelling, pain and redness at the wound site," accord- ing to the Health Department. Consumption of raw or undercooked shellfish, meanwhile, can lead to "nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, fever, chills, and the formation of blistering skin lesions." If you notice any symptoms, Shipley says, "seek out medical care right away." And if you see a cut that may have been infected, wash it thoroughly and apply antibacterial medication, she advises. The two Sarasota County cases involved infections through "open wounds," Shipley says. Neither came from ingesting shellfish. Sarasota County Lifeguard Manager Scott Montgomery tells the News Leader that life- guards working the beach haven't noticed anything unusual in recent weeks: no scares or concerns. And Vibrio vulnificus isn't keep- ing tourists and locals away from the water. "Traffic is still the same," he says. % False color scanning electron micrograph of Vibrio vulnificus bacteria. Image courtesy of Wikipedia Don't have your own subscription to The Sarasota News Leader? Subscribe for FREE and receive a weekly notification when the latest issue is available online. FREE SUBSCRIPTION Sarasota News Leader August 1, 2014 Page 42

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