A man in Missouri has died after eating raw oysters, according to local public health officials.

The St. Louis County Department of Public Health reported the death on June 12 when it was notified by St. Claire Hospital. The man died on June 8 from an infection caused by the bacteria Vibrio vulnificus.

County officials issued a public health warning about the raw oysters, which came from “The Fruit Stand & Seafood” in Manchester, MO. Anyone who ate raw oysters from the location and has become sick should immediately seek medical attention.

Infections from the bacteria Vibrio vulnificus cause symptoms that include abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting, fever, chills, and blisters. Anyone who ate raw oysters from the business and became sick should inform their healthcare providers that they consumed raw shellfish that may have been contaminated with Vibrio vulnificus.

“There is no evidence that the business did anything to contaminate the oysters, which likely were already contaminated when the establishment received them,” St. Louis County health officials said.

The 54-year-old man was not identified by health officials. He consumed raw oysters from The Fruit Stand & Seafood sometime during the past week.

Officials are continuing to investigate the situation. They are conducting traceback efforts to determine where the oysters came from, according to the health department.

All oysters at the business were embargoed by the health department.

Several types of vibrio bacteria can cause disease, although Vibrio vulnificus is the type that is most likely to cause severe disease, according to county health officials. Vibriosis is a very different illness from cholera, which is caused by another vibrio species, Vibrio cholerae. 

Vibrio vulnificus can be found in warm, coastal waters, usually during the summer months. People typically become sick with Vibrio vulnificus by consuming raw or undercooked oysters and other shellfish. Vibrio vulnificus can also cause wound infection if someone with skin lesions swims in or is exposed to water contaminated with the bacteria. Infections caused by Vibrio vulnificus are not spread from person to person.

People infected with Vibrio vulnificus typically begin experiencing symptoms 12 to 72 hours after consuming raw or undercooked seafood, although it may take up to a week before symptoms appear. Symptoms of infection usually come on very quickly. Unlike other types of vibriosis, Vibrio vulnificus does not typically cause diarrhea, although some people do experience gastrointestinal symptoms. 

Illness caused by Vibrio vulnificus can be very serious. In the United States, the mortality rate associated with Vibrio vulnificus infection is approximately one in three people infected by the bacteria, according to the health department.

Vibrio vulnificus causes more than 95 percent of seafood-related deaths in the United States. People who have chronic liver disease or abuse alcohol, as well as people who are immunocompromised, are at an increased risk of developing severe illness and should avoid eating raw or undercooked oysters and other shellfish.

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