Health officials with Public Health – Seattle & King County reported the diagnosis of Vibrio vulnificus in a King County resident recently.

Vibrio vulnificus/CDC
Vibrio vulnificus/CDC

The 50-something woman was diagnosed two weeks ago with the rare wound infection. It is believed she contracted the bacterial infection while she was preparing the tilapia fish and cut her finger.

She was hospitalized and is now recovering at home.

The tilapia fish purchased from the Asian Food Center, located at 14509 NE 20th St. in Bellevue.

Vibrio vulnificus can cause life-threatening illness, so health officials advise that anyone who has eaten or prepared fish from this location before November 17 should be watchful for symptoms of infection for 7 days, and people who purchased fish from this location should discard the fish.

“Persons who prepared or consumed fish of any kind from this location should contact their healthcare provider if they 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.”

Public Health – Seattle & King County is testing samples of the fish and fish tanks at the Asian Food Center. The investigation focuses on tilapia, but they are also looking into the possibility that other seafood may have been contaminated. All tilapia and other fish processed at the Bellevue Asian Food Center were disposed of and the tanks and other equipment were decommissioned until they can be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.

Vibrio are a type of bacteria that are normally in seawater. There are many types of Vibrio that cause illness in humans.

Vibrio vulnificus is very rare in the Pacific Northwest. It is more common in areas with warmer seawater, like the Gulf of Mexico. People can become infected with Vibrio vulnificus if they

  • eat raw or undercooked shellfish,
  • handle contaminated seafood, or
  • have a wound and contaminated seawater gets in the wound.