Officials warn of flesh-eating bacteria in waters

Source: WWL-TV in New Orleans, LA
Source: WWL-TV in New Orleans, LA

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WWL-TV) - If you're planning to spend this Fourth of July holiday on the water, there is a warning from Louisiana health officials.

A potentially deadly bacterium is causing concern in some Louisiana waters.

Four people have already gotten sick and one has died. The victims are from the New Orleans, Houma, Baton Rouge and Lake Charles areas. Officials did not offer any more specifics about those affected or the areas where they may have come in contact with the bacteria.

The Department of Health and Hospitals expects more cases of the flesh-eating bacteria, especially among people with weak immune systems.

"Those people can get really serious wound infections and wound infections that can go through the skin to the muscle and can even get into the blood stream and some can even result in death, as one of these cases has resulted," said Dr. Fred Lopez, an infectious diseases specialist at LSU Health Sciences Center.

The bacterium is naturally occurring. It multiplies when the water temperature goes up. DHH routinely tests beach water and posts advisories on 25 Louisiana beaches if bacteria levels become high.

Click here for beach advisories

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