The swift death of a 59-year-old Florida man from Vibrio vulnificus has spread light on the deadly bacteria that occurs naturally in saltwater. And while it’s most common in the warm waters of the gulf coast, it has been found “in water samples from both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts and from other locations worldwide,” according to the California Restaurant Association.
In addition to the threat of swimming or wading in saltwater, Vibrio vulnificus can also be contracted by eating raw or undercooked shellfish.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns, “This organism has been isolated from oysters, clams, and crabs. Consumption of these products raw or recontaminated may result in illness.”
The FDA advises people with diabetes, cirrhosis, or leukemia to refrain from eating raw shellfish. Also at risk are those who take immunosuppressive drugs or steroids.
California restricts the sale of raw oysters
harvested from the Gulf of Mexico from April 1 – Oct. 31 unless they are
processed, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The California law has produced impressive results in halting cases of Vibrio vulnificus.