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Public Health — Seattle & King County received a report on July 24th of a King County resident with a rare wound infection caused by the bacteria Vibrio vulnificus. The likely source of infection was fish purchased from a live fish tank at the Seattle Supermarket, located at 4801 Beacon Ave S, Seattle 98108.

Vibrio vulnificus/CDC
Vibrio vulnificus/CDC

Vibrio vulnificus can cause life-threatening illness when ingested or if it enters a skin wound. Health officials advise that anyone who has eaten or prepared fish from this location before July 25 should watch for symptoms of infection for 7 days. People who purchased fish from this location should discard the fish.

“This is the second case of this illness in the past year and both cases came from preparing and consuming fish purchased from a live fish tank. If you prepared or consumed fish of any kind, contact your healthcare provider if you develop signs of skin infection, fever, chills, or diarrhea in the seven days after contact with the fish,” said Dr. Jeff Duchin, Health Officer for Public Health — Seattle & King County. “At this time, there is no known risk for people who have not been in contact with fish from this location, but people should always take precautions when handling raw seafood.”

The person who developed the infection, a man in his forties, is currently hospitalized. His infection likely resulted while he was preparing the fish and cut his hand, which allowed the bacteria from the fish to enter and infect the wound. He and his wife also ate the cooked fish. His wife became ill, but she was not hospitalized.

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Public Health — Seattle & King County is testing samples of the fish and fish tanks at the Seattle Supermarket. The investigation focuses on fish from the live fish tanks, but they are also looking into the possibility that other seafood may have been contaminated. All fish processed at the Seattle Supermarket were thrown away and the tanks and other equipment were decommissioned until they can be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.

The earlier case of Vibrio vulnificus occurred in a King County woman who prepared tilapia purchased from a live tank at a different store and contracted the infection in November of 2016. She has since recovered.