ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.—State health department officials say 31 people across Florida have been infected this year by a potentially deadly, yet common bacteria that lives in salt water—and 10 of those people have died.

But experts say the vast majority of people aren't at risk of contracting vibrio vulnificus (vih-BREE'-oh VUHL'-nihf-ih-kus), which lives in warm salt water.

Vibrio is contracted one of two ways: by eating tainted shellfish or when an open wound comes in contact with bacteria in warm seawater.

Dr. James Oliver, a Vibrio expert and a University of North Carolina professor, says most of the people who die from the disease have compromised immune systems.


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