Flesh-eating bacteria from St. Johns River infects local girl

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A local child is infected with flesh-eating bacteria she contracted from swimming in the St. Johns River in Duval County. The Health Department says this is cause for caution, but not alarm.

A 7 year old girl contracted a case of vibrio vulnificus -- the bacteria that can lead to the "flesh eating" condition also known as "necrotizing fasciitis". According to the Health Department, she was swimming in the Saint Johns River and was infected through an open wound. Wednesday, the department said she is doing just fine and she is out of the hospital.

In the last year, more than 40 Florida residents visited hospitals for bacteria found in our waterways. Of those eleven have died. In Duval County, the last death due to the bacteria was back in 2005.

We also want to let you know, our sister station wtsp has confirmed that two people have contracted the bacteria in sarasota county in the last month.

One of those victims did die.

But, after this latest case in this river, the Health Department is not steering you from jumping in.

Instead, they are asking swimmers to be cautious.

"When normal, healthy people come in contact with the bacteria the infection more than likely is not going to be sever. If you ingest the bacteria, you are going to get vomiting, nausea and diarrhea. If you come into contact through a wound, you are going to get some puffiness and swelling and where we are really concerned is those with a immune compromised status, and especially liver function issues," Duval County Epidemiologist Haley Zachary said.

Now, this news comes just two weeks after a major study where researchers with Jacksonville University found four of six sites they tested were positive for marine bacteria.

Right now, the Health Department is not releasing exactly where the child was swimming.


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