"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Flesh-eating bacteria cause deaths in three coastal states

August 21, 2023 – Flesh-eating bacteria have killed eight people on the East Coast, prompting health officials to induce people to take precautions near warm sea water or when cooking or eating shellfish.

The bacteria, so-called Vibrio harmfulis taken into account rare, but can infect open wounds or individuals who have eaten contaminated shellfish. People with unprotected cuts and wounds, individuals with liver disease or cancer, and other people taking medication to scale back stomach acid levels are particularly in danger.

Florida has reported 26 cases and five deaths, The State of New York has reported one one who died from a wound infection, and Connecticut reported two individuals with wound infections and one one who became infected by eating raw, non-native oysters. Two of the infected people in Connecticut have died.

Vibrio harmful can cause serious infections when open cuts and wounds, including recent surgical sites, piercings and tattooed skin, come into contact with water containing the bacteria,” the Connecticut Department of Health warned in a opinion“Vibrio are referred to within the media as 'shellfish bacteria', but these bacteria occur naturally in salt and brackish water. Shellfish can accumulate any contaminants present within the water, including bacteria, which is why they're a highly regulated food.”

To prevent infection with the bacteria, CDC recommends that individuals with cuts or wounds avoid salt water or other non-freshwater areas, including wading on the beach. Another option is to cover wounds with waterproof dressings if they might come into contact with a lot of these water or with raw or undercooked seafood or its juices. Wounds or cuts must be washed thoroughly with soap and water after contact with potentially contaminated water or seafood.

People with weakened immune systems should avoid handling or eating raw seafood, New York health officials advised. The Florida Department of Health said all people can prevent the bacterial infection by avoiding eating raw oysters and other raw shellfish. Florida health officials also really helpful:

  • Cook shellfish reminiscent of oysters, clams and mussels thoroughly
  • Cook shellfish in shell until shell opens, then cook for one more 5 minutes; or steam until shell opens, then cook for one more 9 minutes
  • Do not eat shellfish that don't open when cooked
  • Boil shucked oysters for at the very least 3 minutes or fry in oil at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for at the very least 10 minutes
  • Preventing cross-contamination of cooked foods with raw seafood and raw seafood juices
  • When handling raw shellfish, wear protective clothing (e.g. gloves) and wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.