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Warmer Water Increases Risk of Bacteria Infection In Cuts, Shellfish

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By Sabri Ben-Achour

Maryland's Department of Health says warm water in the Chesapeake Bay is increasing the risk of infection from a naturally occurring bacteria.

Vibrio is a bacteria in the cholera family that grows naturally in the bay and it really likes warm brackish water.

"It can cause very serious infections," says Dr. Clifford Mitchell, Maryland's assistant director for environmental health and food protection.

"Two of the infections that we worry about are from eating or swallowing vibrio, and what are called wound infections, which is when vibrio gets directly into an open wound," he says.

Mitchell says people with underlying health problems should avoid raw shellfish in particular, though there's a risk for everyone. Make sure oysters and clams are kept cool, and he says avoid swimming in brackish water if you have open cuts. So far 24 cases have been reported in Maryland.

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