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One woman is dead after coming in contact with flesh-eating bacteria found in Florida waters.

A rep for the Florida Department of Health told MyFoxTampaBay.com that the unidentified patient was a middle-aged woman with health problems. The bacteria, vibrio vulnificus, infected her system after she got saltwater on an open wound.

“For someone who is immune-compromised, or has chronic liver disease, it could be a life-threatening situation. And it’s as simple as going in the water with open cuts,” a spokesperson for the Hillborough County Health Department said.

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Authorities did not indicate where she contracted the bacteria, but one medical expert stated that its always been in Florida’s sea water. “It’s been here all along, and we’ve seen cases from time to time,” Dr. Joette Giovinco told Fox 13 in Tampa. “Millions of people are exposed to this every single day.”

She hypothesized that the climate this winter created ideal conditions for vibrio vulnificus to thrive.

“Unfortunately, this bacteria likes the heat. “We’ve had a very, very warm winter, so we probably have a lot more than we would normally have had.”

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There are a few safety tips that people should keep in mind to avoid a potentially fatal infection.

Stay Out Of The Water

If you have an open wound, don’t get into the water. An open wound can be anything from a cut or scrape to something as serious as a diabetic ulcer on the skin.

Wash Off

Should you ignore the advice not to get into, Dr. Giovinco recommends that you thoroughly wash you wound with antibacterial soap. Vibrio vulnificus does tend to take hold fairly quickly, so you should wash off ASAP. Antibacterial ointments should also be applied to the wound.

Avoid Raw Shellfish

It’s also possible to ingest the bacteria if you’re eating raw shellfish or oysters.

Know The Signs Of Infection

Patients may exhibit a number of symptoms to indicate that they may have been infected. For example, some people may notice blistering around the wound that contains clear or bloody fluid. Patients may also experience fever or chills. In either case, it’s recommended that you see a doctor immediately.

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