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    Experts explain risks from shellfish and seawater, and how to stay safe from vibrio bacteria; 3 deaths in Tri-State area

    NEW YORK (WABC) — Three people have been killed by a deadly bacteria found in raw shellfish and seawater in the Tri-State area.

    Two people from Connecticut swam with open cuts in the Long Island Sound and one man from the town of Brookhaven swam with an open cut and died in Suffolk County.

    “Leg wound that was getting worse and he had some chest pain and then after he was admitted to the hospital, got worse and passed away,” said Suffolk County Commissioner of Health Dr. Gregson Pigott.

    The bacteria can also come from raw shellfish like oysters, which was the case with another person in Connecticut who became ill and then recovered. There is no indication that the oysters came from the Sound.

    What is key to understand is those most at risk are people with weakened immune systems.

    Doctors called the power of vibrio vulnificus humbling.

    “It is rare, it is unusual, but when it occurs, it can be very dangerous,” said Dr. Bruce Hirsch, a Northwell Infectious Disease physician.

    They also said its prevalence is a result of climate change and it used to be more common in the South.

    It’s not so much a concern at ocean beaches, but at bays where salt water meets fresh water.

    Precautions for avoiding the potentially deadly bacteria include protecting open wounds from seawater and, for those with compromised immune systems, forgoing raw or undercooked shellfish.

    Symptoms of vibriosis include stomach cramps, vomiting, fever, and chills.

    “I think it’s important for everyone to look at the warning signs. While anyone can get sick from vibriosis, the majority of those who have complications or have severe disease are the ones who have cancer, diabetes, as your other expert spoke to, HIV, or someone who is taking immunosuppresive medication,” Dr. Bernard Camins said.

    Health officials say anyone can get vibriosis, the illness caused by the bacteria, but those with a weakened immune systems or people taking medicine to decrease stomach acid levels may be more susceptible to infection or more likely to develop complications.

    All of those killed in the Tri-State area were over the age of 55.

    VIDEO | Expert speaks out on what to know about the deadly bacteria:


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