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Thursday
Jul192018

71-year-old man dies from flesh-eating bacteria linked to tainted oyster

iStock/Thinkstock(SARASOTA, Fla.) -- A 71-year-old man died from a flesh-eating bacteria that health officials say he contracted from eating a bad raw oyster at a Florida seafood restaurant.

Florida Health Department officials said the man died from Vibrio vulnificus two days after eating a raw oyster and coming down with a gastrointestinal illness.

The death came on the heels of a warning earlier this week from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that 12 people throughout the nation contracted the Vibrio bacteria by eating fresh Venezuelan crab meat. None of those cases were fatal.

The name of the man who died, a Sarasota County, Florida, resident, was not released nor was the restaurant where he ate the bad oyster.

"The individual who died was exposed to Vibrio vulnificus through consuming a raw oyster," the health department said in a statement to ABC News.

Officials said the man became gravely ill after eating the bad oyster on July 8 and that he died on July 10.

The department also confirmed that there were four other cases of Vibrio in the state in the past week, but none of those were fatal or in Sarasota County.

Health officials said the causes of the other cases of Vibrio are under investigation. Vibrio can also be contracted by swimming in warm saltwater with fresh cuts or scrapes.

Florida health officials said it was the first case and fatality involving the flesh-eating bacteria in Sarasota County this year. Nearby Manatee County has had one case of flesh-eating bacteria so far in 2018, but it was not deadly, officials said.

There were 11 deaths reported in Florida from Vibrio in 2017.

Meanwhile, the CDC said the Vibrio illnesses caused by the Venezuelan crab meat occurred in Maryland, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.

"CDC recommends that consumers not eat, restaurants not serve, and retailers [do] not sell precooked fresh crab meat imported from Venezuela until further notice," the federal agency said in a statement. "This type of product may be labeled as fresh or precooked. It is commonly found in plastic containers. Food contaminated with Vibrio usually looks, smells, and tastes normal.

"If you buy crab meat and do not know whether it is from Venezuela, do not eat, serve, or sell it," the agency said. "Throw it away."

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