Vibrio vulnificus is a bacterium that normally lives in warm, brackish seawater and is part of a group of vibrios that are called "halophilic" because they require salt, health officials say.
The 71-year-old Sarasota man was said to have eaten the contaminated oysters on July 8 and died two days later, according to the Florida Department of Health. The name of the restaurant that served the oyster has not been released.
The Florida Department of Health said symptoms include diarrhea, fever and general symptoms associated with gastrointestinal illness, WWSB reports. Instead they should ensure that their shellfish are cooked thoroughly.
Experts recommend those with the open wound not to enter brackish seawater without protection. Officials say people can get infected by eating raw shellfish, particularly oysters, or by swimming in the ocean with open wounds. Most cases are unpleasant but resolve within a few days, but infections from the species Vibrio vulnificus cause a "flesh-eating" or necrotizing fasciitis condition that kills up to 30% of those infected.
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If the bacteria enters the bloodstream, the infection can become even more serious with a lethal rate of about 50 percent.
"The summer time, May, June July there are no R's in there the water's warmer so the bacteria that's potentially hazardous to some people is more prevalent", Alton said. "So far this year, there have been a total of 16 cases of Vibrio vulnificus statewide with three confirmed deaths". Health officials, however, said this label is misleading since the bacteria do not attack healthy skin.
As for Big Bend counties, Wakulla and Jackson counties have both had one confirmed case each. Estimates suggest 52,000 of those cases are likely the result of eating contaminated food, especially raw seafood. In 2017, there were two cases and also no fatalities.