The man has remained unnamed but is believed to be in his 30s to 40s. He went to a restaurant in Texas on 29 August where he ordered what is commonly seen as a treat: raw oysters. After having eaten the shellfish hefell ill and was admitted to hospital on 1 September. He died 3 days later.
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Officials have attributed his death to Vibrio vulnificus, an infection that you can get from eating raw seafood or through open wounds that are exposed to saltwater.
This infection is often referred to as ‘flesh eating bacteria’ because, in severe cases, the flesh around an open wound starts to die. Between 150 and 200 cases are reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) every year with about 1 in 5 people dying - often within a few days of falling unwell.
According to the CDC, ‘anyone can get a Vibrio wound infection. But some people are more likely to get an infection and have severe complications—for example, people who have liver disease or take medicine that lowers the body’s ability to fight germs’.
Dr Philip Keiser, a Local Health Authority, has stated that the man was living with a liver condition and undergoing immunosuppressive drug treatment.
The CDC has issued a Health Advisory
The CDC issued a Health Advisory on 1 September to alert the public about recent instances of fatal Vibrio infections - both from food and wounds. In an Interview with KTRK, Keiser warned:
Vibrio vulnificus, it’s name is actually fraught with meaning because the vulnificus means it’s like a volcano and it refers to the fact that these infections once they take hold can spread extremely rapidly like wildfire.
At least 6 people have died in the US this summer after contracting the infection in warming East Coast waters. Experts warn that with recent storm surges and flooding, there may be an increased likelihood of people becoming infected with the bacteria. The CDC has urged people and doctors to take it seriously if someone with an open wound goes swimming and develops a rash that grows quickly. According to the CDC, other symptoms of Vibriovulnificus infection include:
- Watery diarrhea, often accompanied by stomach cramping, nausea, vomiting, and fever
- For bloodstream infection: fever, chills, dangerously low blood pressure, and blistering skin lesions
- For wound infection, which may spread to the rest of the body: fever, redness, pain, swelling, warmth, discoloration, and discharge (leaking fluids).
CDC: Vibrio vulnificus & Wounds
ABC13 Houston:Galveston County man dies from rare infection after eating raw oysters, health officials say
ABCNews: 6 die from 'flesh-eating' bacteria in 3 East Coast states. Here's what to know about Vibrio vulnificus
People: Texas Man Dies from Flesh-Eating Bacteria After Consuming Raw Oysters at Galveston Restaurant