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Flesh-eating bacteria cases at a 15-year high in Florida

Florida Department of Health officials said cases and deaths have stabilized. State officials believe the spike was due to the floodwaters from Hurricane Ian.

ST. PETERSBURG — The number of flesh-eating bacteria cases are at a 15-year high in Florida.

The Florida Department of Health reported 14 people have died and 71 people have been infected with Vibrio so far this year. Officials explained the spike stems from Hurricane Ian due to contaminated water.

One Florida policy manager, Emma Haydocy, said the state needs to make wastewater improvements to keep the bacteria levels down.

"It’s estimated that Florida needs over $18 billion dollars statewide to complete all the wastewater infrastructure improvements necessary to protect public and environmental health," Haydocy explained.

Haydocy said until the state sees that money at a federal level, Vibrio cases will continue to occur. Vibrio is rare flesh-eating bacteria that typically infects someone with an open wound in warm brackish sea water.