A Texas man in his 30s has died of a bacterial infection caused by Vibrio vulnificus after eating unsafe oysters earlier this month.
With a mortality rate of 33%, this bacterium is particularly deadly for those with underlying health conditions including “liver disease, immunosuppression or diabetes,” per a Galveston County health report.
The man contracted Vibrio after eating raw oysters in a restaurant in Galveston, Texas.
Galveston County Local Health Authority Dr. Philip Keiser said to Fox News, “We’ve actually gone to the restaurant where he was eating, and we pulled the oysters from the shelf. There are tags to them, so we can identify the lots, and the state is actually analyzing them to see if we can find the bug in a particular lot of oysters.”
Since Vibrio lives in warm water, contraction rates peak during the summer. Since this summer was the hottest since 1880, infection rates are high.
Galveston County’s report explained that contraction can occur when raw or uncooked seafood, salt water or brackish water comes in contact with wounds. Infection can also happen for those with compromised immune systems when they eat raw or uncooked seafood containing the bacteria.
Tattoos fall in the category of “open wound,” so avoiding swimming in pools, rivers and warm water soon after getting a tattoo will significantly lower the chance of contracting Vibrio.
Vibrio contraction is particularly common during floods, which have happened frequently in recent months.
In 2022, there were 74 total confirmed cases of Vibrio infection and 17 deaths, most occurring “in Lee County after Hurricane Ian’s waters flooded the community,” according to Channel 8 News.
Symptoms of Vibrio infection include “watery diarrhea, stomach cramping, nausea, vomiting and fever,” per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If the infection is in the bloodstream, symptoms include “fever, chills, dangerously low blood pressure and blistering skin lesions.” If infection occurs in an open wound, symptoms are “fever, redness, pain, swelling, warmth, discoloration and discharge.”
Emergency medicine physician Dr. Eric Shamas told Channel 8 News, “If you have wounds, maybe stay out of the water. If you suffer a cut while in the water, just wash it out very thoroughly with soap and water. Monitor your symptoms and follow up with your doctor if you have any questions.”