Five Connecticut residents were hospitalized with a flesh eating bacteria after going in the water in the Long Island Sound this summer, according to Connecticut health officials.
Health officials from the state warned shoreline residents of the Vibrio vulnificus infections—one from July and four from August—in an alert on Saturday.
“The identification of these five cases over two months is very concerning,” Matthew Cartter, the state’s epidemiologist for the public health department, said in a statement.
No deaths have been reported, according to the Connecticut public health department.
All five patients, ages 49 to 85, had pre-existing wounds or were injured during swimming, crabbing, or boating before getting infected. Two patients suffered infections in their bloodstream, and three suffered serious wound infections.
“This suggests the Vibrio bacteria may be present in salt or brackish water in or near Long Island Sound, and people should take precautions,” Cartter said.
In Connecticut, there have only been seven other cases since 2010.
One in five people die of the infection, with the greatest risk for those with weakened immune systems and the elderly.
The public health department recommends staying out of saltwater or brackish water if someone has an open wound or cut, including recent surgeries, piercings, or tattoos. Alternatively, wash cuts with soap and water and cover them with a waterproof bandage before going swimming.
According to the CDC, some of these types of infections can lead to necrotizing fasciitis—the infection that caused 24-year-old Aimee Copeland to lose her leg, foot, and hands after cutting her leg on a zip line while swimming in a creek. One Brooklynite told us back in 2010 he got the infection from a garbage bag in Prospect Park. Necrotizing fasciitis can be caused by more than one bacteria, the CDC says.