Bacteria Linked to Oysters, Seawater Kills 3 on East Coast

4th person also sickened, but survives
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 17, 2023 2:50 AM CDT
Bacteria Linked to Oysters Kills 3 on East Coast
   (Getty Images / ValentynVolkov)

Three people in New York and Connecticut have died recently from a rare but deadly bacterial infection linked to raw seafood and warm seawater. A fourth person was hospitalized with the same infection but survived, the New York Times reports. Vibrio vulnificus is a flesh-eating bacteria that can cause an infection called vibriosis which, according to the CDC, is fatal in an estimated 20% of cases. Even in those who survive, amputations are common. Two of the deaths took place in Connecticut after people with open cuts were exposed to water in the Long Island Sound in two different communities. The third death took place in New York's Suffolk County, on Long Island, but officials are still investigating what exposure that person may have experienced.

The fourth case involved a Connecticut resident who ate raw oysters in another state, which had not been harvested from the Long Island Sound, and became ill but was ultimately released from the hospital. All of the victims were between the ages of 60 and 80, the New York Daily News reports. People can be infected after eating raw seafood, particularly shellfish (and particularly if the people eating it have liver problems already), or after coming in contact with brackish water with an open wound, especially in warm weather. Symptoms can range from diarrhea and vomiting to sepsis and infected wounds, the flesh around which can die. Connecticut officials point out that none of the cases have been linked to oysters from the state, and assure residents that its waters are regularly tested for the bacteria and the state has strict protocols in place for handling raw oysters. (More flesh-eating bacteria stories.)

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