HEALTH ALERT: Flesh-eating bacteria found outside of ocean water

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PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Concern over the flesh-eating bacteria continues to grow heading into the Fourth of July weekend.

Doctors said the bacteria is not just in the water. Vibrio Vulnificus is everywhere, including the sand.

James Paldeino took his family to Gandy Beach Tuesday. He’s cautious, like everyone else, of what’s lurking in the water.

“I have a 6-month-old, definitely want to make sure, all the time, be clean and healthy,” said Paldeino.

Cases have been reported around the state and the Tampa Bay area.

A 12-year-old Destin girl almost lost her leg to necrotizing fasciitis.

According to the Herald Tribune, a woman, visiting Siesta Key Beach in May was diagnosed with the bacteria.

An Orlando woman got an infection visiting Sarasota Beach. Doctors were able to catch it before it got worse.

Lynn Fleming died after contracting the bacteria last month after visiting Coquina Beach.

But it’s not just the water we need to be cautious of.

“They can be in the sand,” dermatologist Dr. Maria Hicks said. “They can be in any surface.”

She warns of cuts and scrapes and to consider shaving a few days before you hit the sand.

“If there’s a cut, if there’s trauma, it’s very easy that that happens on the beach or running around, then make sure that you go and wash it with soap and water,” she said.

Medical experts said people should not be afraid of the beach, but be aware.

“Life is there and now cases are happening but it doesn’t mean that it happens to everybody,” Hicks said.

Doctors said to check for redness or any swelling in the area. If something appears wrong or feels painful, don’t hesitate to go to the emergency room, because the infection spreads fast.

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