Five people from Connecticut were hospitalized after they contracted flesh-eating bacteria in the waters of the Long Island Sound this summer, health officials said Saturday.
Four men and one woman had pre-existing wounds or were injured during swimming, crabbing, or boating before getting Vibrio vulnificus infections in July and August, according to the Connecticut Department of Public Health. Two patients developed infections in their bloodstream, and three suffered serious wound infections.
The infection is extremely rare. In the past 10 years only seven cases were reported in Connecticut.
"The identification of these five cases over two months is very concerning," Matthew Cartter, the state's epidemiologist for the public health department, said in a statement.
Vibrio vulnificus can cause serious illness and patients may need intensive care or limb amputation. No deaths have been reported, but about 1 in 5 of people with this type of flesh-eating bacteria infection die, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Those who are at greatest risk are people with weakened immune systems and the elderly.
Health officials urged residents to avoid saltwater or brackish water if they have a wound or to cover the wound with a waterproof bandage and thoroughly wash it with soap and water if it could come into contract with "saltwater, brackish water, or raw or undercooked seafood and its juices."
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Flesh-eating bacteria infects 5 from Connecticut in Long Island Sound