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Rare seawater 'flesh-eating' bacteria kills 35 a year

The death last week of a Florida man from an uncommon flesh-eating bacterium was the state's ninth so far this year.

The bacterium is in the same family as those that cause cholera.

Henry Konietzky, 59, of Palm Coast, Fla., died Sept. 23 after setting crab traps two days earlier in the river near Ormond Beach, Fla. The following day, he noticed a sore on his leg that looked like a bug bite, according to Florida TODAY.

The bacterium Vibrio vulnificus is naturally found in warm salt water, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and people with open wounds can easily be exposed through direct contact with seawater.

The Florida Department of Health reports that the state averages 16 fatal cases from Vibrio vulnificus annually. Nationally, about 95 cases, 85 hospitalizations and 35 deaths occur each year, according to the department.

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