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Experts reveal risk factors for flesh-eating bacteria

by: Kristy Wolski Updated:


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A 7-year-old girl contracted a flesh-eating bacteria while in the water in Duval County.

Department of Health Duval County officials confirmed the Vibrio Vulnificus case Thursday and said the girl came in contact with the bacteria in the St. Johns River.

“She was exposed through a wound infection,” said Haley Zachary, Department of Health Duval County. “So she either had a wound and she went in the water or she got a wound while playing in the water.”

Zachary said the girl suffered a minor infection and is doing well.

The Vibrio Vulnificus bacteria is common in brackish water during the summertime in Florida, according to Zachary. It can be contracted through exposure to an open wound or by eating undercooked shellfish.

Related Story: Girl, 7, contracts flesh-eating bacteria

She said the bacteria is common, but an infection is rare.

“Where we’re really concerned is people who have an immune compromised status,” said Zachary. “Specifically those who have liver function issues.”

According to the Florida Department of Health there has only been one reported case of Vibrio Vulnificus in Duval County in 2014; there have not been any reported cases in surrounding counties. The agency reports one case each in 2013 in Duval, Flagler, Nassau and St. Johns counties.

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