Florida health officials are warning people at high risk to avoid eating raw oysters.
A man from Wewahitchka, which is between Panama City and Tallahassee, died and another remains hospitalized in critical condition. Both men became ill after eating raw oysters that were infected with deadly bacteria that lives in saltwater.
Lindsey Hodges with the Florida Department of Health says they've had cases of individuals that have come down with vulnificus, a bacteria infection related to oyster consumption.
Infectious Disease Specialist Doctor Ikram Haq says those with liver disease and immune disorders are more susceptible to the bacteria and should never eat raw oysters. He says the bacteria can even make healthy people feel sick to their stomachs.
Thirty-nine-year-old Dennis Sharron of Wewahitchka died on November fifth, less than a week after he ate raw oysters. James Palmer, a 45-year-old from Panama City, has been in the hospital since Wednesday. Doctors had to amputate his right leg, but say his condition is improving.
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What Is Vibrio Vulnificus?
Vibrio vulnificus is a bacterium in the same family as those that cause cholera. It normally lives in warm seawater and is part of a group of vibrios that are called "halophilic" because they require salt.
What Type of Illness Does V. Vulnificus Cause?
How Common Is V. Vulnificus Infection?
How Do Persons Get Infected/Treated?
Tips for Preventing V. Vulnificus
1. Do not eat raw oysters or other raw shellfish.
2. Cook shellfish (oysters, clams, mussels) thoroughly:
3. For shellfish in the shell, either a) boil until the shells open and continue boiling for 5 more minutes, or b) steam until the shells open and then continue cooking for 9 more minutes. Do not eat those shellfish that do not open during cooking. Boil shucked oysters at least 3 minutes, or fry them in oil at least 10 minutes at 375°F.
4. Avoid cross-contamination of cooked seafood and other foods with raw seafood and juices from raw seafood.
5. Eat shellfish promptly after cooking and refrigerate leftovers.
6. Avoid exposure of open wounds or broken skin to warm salt or brackish water, or to raw shellfish harvested from such waters.
7. Wear protective clothing (e.g., gloves) when handling raw shellfish.
Source: http://www.cds.gov (Centers for Disease Control Web site) contributed to this report.
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