In an update on the Vibrio parahaemolyticus outbreak reported initially in Maryland last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced late yesterday they are now investigating a multistate outbreak of Vibrio parahaemolyticus infections linked to eating fresh crab meat imported from Venezuela.

Steamed crab meat from blue crab (close up)/CDC
Steamed crab meat from blue crab (close up)/CDC

To date, the outbreak has sickened 12 people from 3 states (Maryland, Pennsylvania and Louisiana) and the District of Columbia. Four people have been hospitalized; no deaths have been reported.

Additional ill people associated with this outbreak include people who reported eating crab meat and who had a diagnostic test showing they were infected with Vibrio, which may or may not be the species Vibrio parahaemolyticus.

FDA and regulatory officials in Maryland traced back the source of the crab meat from the restaurants and grocery stores where ill people bought crab meat.

Epidemiologic evidence indicates that fresh crab meat imported from Venezuela is a likely source of this outbreak. This crab meat might be labeled as fresh or precooked. It is commonly sold in plastic containers.

Food contaminated with Vibrio usually looks, smells, and tastes normal.

CDC recommends that consumers not eat, restaurants not serve, and retailers not sell precooked fresh crab meat imported from Venezuela until further notice.