Health officials in St. Louis County, Missouri are advising the public to discard recently purchased oysters from The Fruit Stand & Seafood, 14433 Manchester Road in Manchester after a man died after eating raw oysters sold by the establishment.
The 54-year-old man died after becoming infected by the bacteria Vibrio vulnificus, which can be carried by oysters and other shellfish. He had consumed raw oysters from the Fruit Stand & Seafood sometime in the past week, the Department of Public Health (DPH) investigation found. He was treated at St. Claire Hospital and died Thursday.
Officials say there is no evidence that the business did anything to contaminate the oysters, which likely were already contaminated when the establishment received them.
All remaining oysters in the establishment were embargoed by DPH. Investigators are attempting to determine the source of the oysters in question.
Vibrio vulnificus can cause disease in those who eat contaminated seafood or have an open wound that is exposed to warm seawater containing the bacteria. Ingestion of Vibrio vulnificus can cause vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. Vibrio vulnificus can also cause an infection of the skin when open wounds are exposed to warm seawater; these infections may lead to skin breakdown and ulcers.
Healthy individuals typically develop a mild disease; however, Vibrio vulnificus infections can be a serious concern for people who have weakened immune systems, particularly those with chronic liver disease.
The bacterium can invade the bloodstream, causing a severe and life-threatening illness with symptoms like fever, chills, decreased blood pressure (septic shock) and blistering skin lesions. Vibrio vulnificus bloodstream infections are fatal about 50 percent of the time. A recent study showed that people with these pre-existing medical conditions were 80 times more likely to develop Vibrio vulnificus bloodstream infections than healthy people.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you can reduce your risk of vibriosis by following these tips:
- Don’t eat raw or undercooked oysters or other shellfish. Cook them before eating.
- Always wash your hands with soap and water after handing raw shellfish.
- Avoid contaminating cooked shellfish with raw shellfish and its juices.
- Stay out of salt water or brackish water if you have a wound (including from a recent surgery, piercing, or tattoo), or cover your wound with a waterproof bandage if there’s a possibility it could come into contact with salt water or brackish water, raw seafood, or raw seafood juices. Brackish water is a mixture of fresh and salt water. It is often found where rivers meet the sea.
- Wash wounds and cuts thoroughly with soap and water if they have been exposed to seawater or raw seafood or its juices.
- If you develop a skin infection, tell your medical provider if your skin has come into contact with salt water or brackish water, raw seafood, or raw seafood juices.