BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The Maryland Department of Health is urging people to avoid eating fresh crab meat imported from Venezuela because of the potential risk of infection.

Officials are investigating a cluster of Vibrio infections in people who reported eating fresh, non-pasteurized crab meat from Venezuela.

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The imported crab meat is sold under different brand names in a plastic tub that indicates the product was imported from Venezuela. Maryland crab has not been associated with this cluster.

The state Department of Health said the infected crabs have been prepared in restaurants, including a variety of dishes such as crab cakes, seafood salad containing crab and crab benedict.

Symptoms of Vibrio infection include watery diarrhea, abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting, fever and chills.

At least nine cases have been confirmed in Maryland, including two of which were hospitalized.

Vibrio infections can be caused by ingestion of Vibrio-containing water or shellfish and by direct skin exposure to Vibrio-containing salt or brackish water, including waters of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, according to the MDH. However, officials say none of the individuals have reported contact with water as a likely cause of illness.

Those who have recently consumed imported crab meat from Venezuela and are experiencing the aforementioned symptoms should consult their primary care provider.

Consumers should refrain from eating these non-pasteurized imported products until further notice.

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