GALVESTON, Tex. - A man has died from a bacterial infection after eating raw oysters in Galveston. Local health authorities are now investigating his death and the batch of oysters from the restaurant he visited on the island.
Days before, the CDC issued a warning about swimming in the abnormally warm Gulf of Mexico and eating raw shellfish because the summer's heat multiplied flesh-eating bacteria which can also be deadly if ingested. The bacteria is naturally occurring in the water.
According to Dr. Philip Keiser with the Galveston County Local Health Authority, the man was in his 30s and had underlying health issues.
"He had problems with his liver. He also had some other problems, and he had to take some medication that suppressed his immune system. It just so happens that the conditions that he had really predisposed him to an overwhelming infection with Vibrio Vulnificus," Keiser said.
Keiser said the man consumed several raw oysters from a restaurant on the island on Tuesday, August 29, and was admitted to the hospital on Thursday. He died over Labor Day weekend.
Officials have not released the man’s identity or the name of the restaurant, but said investigators are working to identify the source of the bacteria.
"We've actually gone to the restaurant where he was eating, and we pulled the oysters from the shelf. There are tags to them, so we can identify the lots, and the state is actually analyzing them to see if we can find the bug in a particular lot of oysters," Keiser said.
Health authorities say the bacterium has been exacerbated by the extreme heat and warmer than usual coastal waters this summer.
On September 1, the CDC issued a warning asking people to avoid swimming in coastal waters with an open-wound and exercise caution when eating raw seafood.
Those who become infected may experience nausea, vomiting and develop a rash that quickly spreads.
Authorities urge anyone who experiences similar symptoms after eating raw seafood or being exposed to coastal waters to see a doctor immediately.
If the same bacteria enters an open wound on the body, it is the flesh-eating virus.