The Connecticut Department of Public Health is warning residents about the potential dangers of consuming raw shellfish and exposure to salt or brackish water along Long Island Sound, because of severe Vibrio vulnificus infections.
Since July 1, three cases of Vibrio vulnificus infections have been reported to the state health department. The three patients are between 60-80 years of age.
All three patients were hospitalized and one died. One patient reported consuming raw oysters from an out-of-state establishment. Two patients reported exposure to salt or brackish water in Long Island Sound. Both patients had pre-existing open cuts or wounds or sustained new wounds during these activities which likely led to the infections.
“The identification of these severe cases, including one fatality, due to V. vulnificus is concerning,” said DPH Commissioner Manisha Juthani, MD.
“People should consider the potential risk of consuming raw oysters and exposure to salt or brackish water and take appropriate precautions. Particularly during the hottest months of the summer, bacteria are more likely to overgrow and contaminate raw shellfish. Given our current heat wave, this may be a time to exercise particular caution in what you consume.”
Vibrio vulnificus infection is an extremely rare illness. Only five cases were reported in 2020 in Connecticut, and none in 2021 and 2022. Vibrio vulnificus infections from oysters can result in severe illness, including bloodstream infections. Vibrio vulnificus can also cause wound infections when open wounds are exposed to warm salt or brackish water (mix of salt and fresh water).
People with a Vibrio vulnificus infection can get seriously ill and need intensive care or limb amputation. About one in five people with this type of infection die. People at greatest risk for illness from Vibrio vulnificus are those with weakened immune systems and the elderly.
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