A man died after eating oysters in a Texas restaurant: they were infected with dangerous bacteria - ForumDaily
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A man died after eating oysters in a Texas restaurant: they were contaminated with dangerous bacteria.

A 30-year-old man died after eating fresh oysters at a Texas restaurant, reports USAToday.

Photo: IStock

The man contracted a bacterial infection known as Vibrio vulnificus, which thrives in warm coastal waters. The number of such bacterial infections is increasing as water temperatures continue to rise in response to climate change.

Vibrio vulnificus bacteria can be found in raw or undercooked seafood, but it also occurs naturally in salt and brackish water.

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According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you can catch Vibrio vulnificus when an open wound comes into contact with raw or undercooked seafood, its juices or drops, or salt or brackish water.

The CDC issued the health alert in response to the number of people infected with Vibrio vulnificus and those who have died as a result of the infection since the beginning of the year.

Every year, about 80 people become ill with Vibrio vulnificus. Of those infected in the United States, only about 000 people die from the infection each year, according to the CDC.

What is the connection between Vibrio vulnificus and oysters

Vibrio bacteria and oysters often coexist in the same environment. According to the CDC, the bacteria can become concentrated in their tissues when they begin to feed by filtering the water.

Bacteria or viruses that exist in oysters can cause illness if they are raw or undercooked. People with underlying health conditions such as cancer, liver disease, diabetes or those with weakened immune systems have a higher risk of infection.

Most infections result in diarrhea and vomiting, but infections caused by Vibrio vulnificus can cause bloodstream infections and severe blistering of the skin. According to the CDC, 15 to 30% of infections are fatal.

An oyster containing harmful bacteria will look, smell and even taste no different from any other oyster, so it is impossible to tell if your oyster is bad just by looking at it. The only way to kill the harmful bacteria present in oysters is to cook them properly.

According to the CDC, most cases of vibriosis occur during the warmer months of the year, but cases are reported throughout the year.

Late last month, a man ate several oysters at a restaurant in Galveston. Two days later he was hospitalized, but he never recovered. The man died over Labor Day weekend. Local health authorities were investigating his death and the batch of oysters he ordered from the restaurant.

“We actually went to the restaurant where he was eating and pulled oysters off the shelf. They have tags on them so we can identify the batches,” said Dr. Philip Keyser with the Galveston County Local Health Department.

The man also had health problems.

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“He had liver problems. He had other problems and had to take some medications that suppressed his immune system. It just so happened that the conditions he was in did predispose him to contract Vibrio vulnificus,” Keyser said.

How to protect yourself

Here are some tips from the CDC on how to protect you and your family from Vibrio vulnificus:

  • Stay away from salt and brackish water if you have an open wound or cut. If you cut yourself while in the water, leave the water immediately.
  • If your open wounds or cuts have been exposed to salt or brackish water, or raw or undercooked seafood, cover them with a waterproof bandage.
  • Wash open wounds and cuts thoroughly with clean, running water and soap after they come in contact with salt, brackish water, or drippings of raw or undercooked seafood.
  • Cook raw oysters and other shellfish before eating.
  • Always wash your hands with soap and water after handling raw shellfish.

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For infected wounds, seek medical attention immediately.

What are the signs of Vibrio vulnificus infection?

According to the CDC, common signs and symptoms that may occur as a result of Vibrio vulnificus infection are:

  • Watery diarrhea, often accompanied by stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting and fever.
  • Bloodstream infection: Fever, chills, dangerously low blood pressure, and blistering of the skin.
  • Infection of a wound that can spread to the rest of the body: fever, redness, pain, swelling, warmth, discoloration, and discharge.

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