SARASOTA, Fla. (WJZ) — A 71-year-old man has died after eating raw oysters in a Florida restaurant. Health officials say the customer was exposed to a bacterial infection known as Vibrio vulnificus and died just two days after visiting the Sarasota eatery.
“We have an individual that consumed some raw oysters and to the best of our knowledge had no exposure to salt water, became severely ill, and passed away,” Michael Drennon of the Sarasota County Health Dept. said, via WJAX.
Vibrio vulnificus bacteria is found in raw or undercooked shell fish, especially during the summer months when salt water temperatures are higher. Health officials warn against eating raw shell fish or swimming in salt water with open wounds.
The CDC says that Vibrio vulnificus causes 80,000 illnesses each year in the United States. About 52,000 of those illnesses are believed to be caused by eating contaminated food. While most cases are mild, the infection can become serious and lead to limb amputation or death within days of encountering the flesh-eating bacteria.
Florida’s health department reports that there have been 16 cases of Vibriosis in the state this year and three patients have died.