Man dies after eating raw oysters tainted with 'flesh-eating' bacteria

Gulf coast oyster fishermen

The Florida Department of Health tells WFLA the 71-year-old man died on July 10 of Vibrio vulnificus after consuming a bad oyster at a restaurant two days earlier.

A Florida man died from a flesh-eating bacteria after eating bad oysters, according to officials.

The department did not disclose the name of the establishment where the man got the oysters from.

Flesh eating bacteria, or Vibrio vulnificus, is naturally occurring bacteria found in warm, brackish seawater.

The department's website says it is the third fatal case of Vibrio in Florida this year.

State health officials advise against going into the water if you have fresh cuts or scrapes.

You can also prevent Vibrio vulnificus infections by not eating raw oysters or other shellfish, avoiding cross-contamination of cooked seafood with raw seafood.

The Florida Department of Health said symptoms include diarrhea, fever and general symptoms associated with gastrointestinal illness, WWSB reports. About 80% of those infections occur between May and October, when water is particularly warm - ideal for colonies of bacteria to grow and thrive.

WWSB also warns that bacteria can enter the system through an open wound, so be wary swimming with cuts. The bacteria does not change the appearance, odor or taste of an oyster. The county did not have any vibrio cases a year ago but there were confirmed cases and one death in 2016. There were no reported cases previous year, officials said.

Healthy individuals will normally develop a mild disease from infection, health officials said. In 2016, Manatee County had two cases, while Sarasota County had three cases and one fatality. Infections are rare but they can be contracted by eating tainted raw shellfish - such as oysters - or by exposing open wounds to salt water.

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