Man dies from bacterial infection from Vibrio vulnificus in raw oysters

Grant Boone
July 19, 2018

According to the Florida Department of Health, the man ate a bad oyster on July 8 and died two days later from a gastro-intestinal related illness.

The department did not release the name of the restaurant where the man ate the tainted shellfish.

While most Vibrio infections from oysters result in milder symptoms such as diarrhea and vomiting, infections caused by Vibrio vulnificus can cause more severe illness, including bloodstream infections and severe blistering skin lesions. If the infection is contracted through the skin, it can lead to skin breakdown and ulcers. "Vibrio vulnificus is a naturally occurring bacteria in warm, salty or brackish water", Florida Department of Health said. Instead they should ensure that their shellfish are cooked thoroughly.

WWSB also warns that bacteria can enter the system through an open wound, so be wary swimming with cuts. Most cases are unpleasant but resolve within a few days, but infections from the species Vibrio vulnificus cause a "flesh-eating" or necrotizing fasciitis condition that kills up to 30% of those infected.

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"Exposures occur more commonly during the summer months from May to October, when the water is warmer", agency officials told the Tampa Bay Times.

Suspected cases of Vibrio vulnificus need to be immediately treated with antibiotics to improve their survival. There were no reported cases previous year, officials said. The county, according to the department, didn't have any cases or deaths in 2017, and three confirmed cases and one death in 2016.

As for Big Bend counties, Wakulla and Jackson counties have both had one confirmed case each. One study conducted by the Florida state health office found the infection was the leading cause of death from foodborne illness between 1981 and 1992. In rare cases, the bacteria can become "flesh eating disease".

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