He Ate a Bad Oyster, Died 2 Days Later

Lynette PayneJul 21, 2018

A 71-year-old Sarasota man has died from a bacterial infection days after eating a raw oyster at a Sarasota County restaurant, according to the Florida Department of Health.

The Florida Department of Health has not released the man's identity or the restaurant where he ate, but CBS Miami reported the man died two days after eating the oysters, after contracting a Vibrio vulnificus infection. The report also stated that the man had underlying medical issues. The county did not have any vibrio cases past year but there were confirmed cases and one death in 2016.

Vibrio vulnificus is a bacterium that normally lives in warm, brackish seawater and is part of a group of vibrios that are called "halophilic" because they require salt, health officials say. Symptoms of the illness usually occur within 24 hours of ingestion and include watery diarrhea, abdominal cramping, vomiting, fever, and chills.

You can get the bacteria by eating undercooked shellfish.

Infections are more likely between May and October when the water is warmer. When hit by a flesh-eating bacteria in human blood, the risk of death reaches 50%. Of the 80,000 illnesses caused by vibriosis each year, about 52,000 of them were a result of eating contaminated food, according to the CDC. If the infection is contracted through the skin, it can lead to skin breakdown and ulcers.

Skin lesions caused by Vibrio vulnificus bacteria after Hurricane Katrina. But an infection can become more serious, leading to lethal in those with a compromised immune system, especially folks suffering from chronic liver disease.

In these instances, many people with the infections have to be admitted into ICU, with between 15 and 30 percent of cases proving to be fatal. The county, according to the department, didn't have any cases or deaths in 2017, and three confirmed cases and one death in 2016.

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