December 3, 2023

Man Diagnosed with Vibrio After Purchasing Fish from Live Tank

A King County man in Seattle, Washington was diagnosed with a Vibrio vulnificus infection after preparing and eating fish purchased from live fish tanks at a local store. The man had a rare round infection after buying fish at the Seattle Supermarket, at 4801 Beacon Avenue South in Seattle.

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This bacteria can cause life-threatening illness if ingested, or if it enters a wound on the skin. Health officials are warning anyone who has eaten or prepared fish purchased from that location before July 25, 2017 to watch for symptoms of infection for 7 days. If you bought fish from that store, throw it away.

Dr. Jeff Cuhin, Health Officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County said in a statement, “This is the second case of this illness in the past year and both cases came from preparing and consuming fish purchased from a live fish tank. If you prepared or consumed fish of any kind, contact your healthcare provider if you develop signs of skin infection, fever, chills, or diarrhea in the seven days after contact with the fish.¬†At this time, there is no known risk for people who have not been in contact with fish from this location, but people should always take precautions when handling raw seafood.”

The man in question is currently hospitalized. He and his wife ate the cooked fish. She got sick but has not been hospitalized.

Public Health Seattle & King County is testing samples of the fish and the fish tanks at the Seattle Supermarket. Officials think that other seafood may have been contaminated. All fish processed at that supermarket were discarded, and the tanks and equipment were decommissioned and disinfected.

This is the second case of Vibrio vulnificus in King County in the past year. A woman purchased tilapia from a live tank at a different store and got sick in November 2016.

Seek medical care immediately if you have handled or eaten fish, especially raw fish from the Seattle Supermarket, and develop these symptoms: a new skin infection, fever and chills, diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting, or any unexplained serious illness. People who are at higher risk for Vibrio infections include those with weakened immune systems, people with liver disease, diabetics, people with HIV, and those who take immune suppressing medications or meds to lower stomach acid.

To prevent this type of infection, use gloves when handling raw seafood. Don’t touch raw seafood if you have wounds on your hands. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling raw shellfish. Don’t eat raw or undercooked shellfish. Cooking kills this pathogenic bacteria.

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