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Deadly bacteria in water kills 9 Floridians this year

6:49 PM, Sep 30, 2013   |    comments
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PALM COAST, Fla -- John Pavlos of Flagler County took his jet ski out for a spin Monday off of Bing's Landing in Palm Coast.

"I'm just having a good time on the Intracoastal Waterway," Pavlos said as he smiled.

However, he did not know about the health department's precautionary warning about a potentially deadly bacteria - vibrio vulnificus - found in warm brackish and seawater.

"That's surprising," Pavlos said. "I had not heard about that yet."

Nine people in Florida have died this year from the bacteria. Henry "Butch" Koneitzky, 59, of Palm Coast was one of those people. 

"It's horrifying. Totally horrifying," Debbie Stack said. Koneitzky was her brother-in-law.

She says last week he died within 28 hours after contracting vibrio. Reports indicate the bacteria shut down his kidneys and liver.

"They did everything. They tried multiple antibiotics," Stack remembered, "Nothing was touching it. Nothing even phased it."

He had been walking knee deep in the Halifax River in Volusia County, setting crab traps last week.   

Health officials say people should avoid eating raw shellfish and going into the water with open wounds.

There have been 26 cases of vibrio in Florida this year, but not all of them were fatal. One case was in Duval, another in St. Johns, one in Flagler and two were in nearby Volusia County.

As for Pavlos, he wants to know more information before going into the water.

"It's a little alarming. I guess," Pavlos said. "It's kind of taken for granted that everything is calm, and you wear a life jacket  -- like I was  -- and you think you don't have to worry about anything else."

First Coast News, CNN, WKMG

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