September 28, 2022

Vibrio Death Investigated in Escambia County, Florida

A Vibrio death is being investigated by public health officials  in Escambia County, Florida, according to the Florida Department of Health in that county. Vibrio vulnificus is a bacterium that lives in warm, brackish seawater and it grows faster in the warmer summer months.

Vibrio Death Investigated in Escambia County, Florida

Shellfish, including oysters, consume the pathogen as they feed on plankton, and it concentrates in the flesh. Anyone who eats a contaminated raw or undercooked oysters can get sick. And anyone with cuts, scratches, or open wounds can be exposed to the pathogen through direct contact with seawater or estuarine water. About 80,000 people are sickened with vibriosis every year, and about 100 people die.

While most people who contract this infection only have a mild illness, people in certain populations can have a severe illness. Those populations include those with a weakened immune system, cancer patients, diabetics, and people with chronic liver disease. Symptoms of a Vibrio infection include vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.

Vibrio does not change the taste, texture, aroma, or appearance of shellfish. To avoid this type of infection, thoroughly cook oysters and other shellfish by frying, stewing, or roasting to kill pathogens. Just cooking bivalves until they open may not be enough; the shellfish should reach the final internal temperature of 145°F for 15 seconds.

If you are in a high risk population, consider not eating raw or undercooked oysters and other types of shellfish. And if you do experience the symptoms if vibriosis, see your doctor.

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