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Posted: Tuesday, 02 July 2013 7:21AM

Health officials: Flesh eating bacteria in Louisiana waters

A dip at the beach may seem like a good idea to beat the summer heat, but state health officials warn there are health risks in Louisiana's natural waters.

State Epidemiologist Dr. Raoult Ratard says Gulf seawater can contain the so-called flesh eating bacteria. He says four such cases are already reported this year; three persons have serious infections and one person has died.

Ratard says they were all swimmers in Louisiana Gulf Coast waters infected with the Vibrio vulnificus bacteria, probably through open wounds or cuts.

He says the bacteria can be especially harmful in persons with preexisting health issues. Swimming in lakes, rivers and streams can also make you sick, according to Dr. Ratard.

He says there are also abundant germs and fecal contaminants in naturally occurring water that can cause abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and discomfort if swallowed. He says swim at your own risk. If you notice an infected cut or sore after swimming, see a doctor without delay.

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