Several severe infections caused by the bacterium Vibrio vulnificus have been reported in New York and Connecticut. (Image credit: BSIP / Contributor via Getty Images)

Three people in the Northeast recently died from a rare, “flesh-eating” bacterial infection, health officials have warned. 

The infection is caused by a bacterium called Vibrio vulnificus, which lives in coastal saltwater and brackish water, meaning a mix of salt and freshwater. The microbe and its cousins in the Vibrio genus are most prevalent in such environments between May and October. People can be exposed to the bacteria when they swim with open wounds or when they eat raw or undercooked shellfish, including oysters. Wounds can also become infected if exposed to raw or undercooked seafood, its juices or its drippings, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).



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