Galveston County man dies from rare infection after eating raw oysters, health officials say

Chaz Miller Image
Monday, September 11, 2023
Man in Galveston County dies after eating raw oysters, officials say
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The Galveston County Health District is warning residents of a rare bacteria found in warm, coastal waters after a man died from eating raw oysters.

GALVESTON COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) -- Galveston County officials are warning people about raw or undercooked shellfish after a man died from a rare infection.

According to the Galveston County Health District, the 30-to-40-year-old man had eaten raw oysters and had underlying health conditions.

"He was taking some drugs that made him immunosuppressed," Dr. Philip Keiser with the Galveston County Health District said. "He also had problems with his liver."

Officials said his death was due to Vibrio vulnificus, a bacteria found in warm, coastal waters that can infect individuals through raw or undercooked shellfish, particularly oysters. People can also become infected through an open wound.

"These infections, once they take hold, can spread extremely rapidly like a fire," Keiser explained.

Infections are up this year due to unusually warm ocean temperatures. However, the department noted infections are rare and usually occur in people with underlying health conditions, such as liver disease, immunosuppression, or diabetes.

Keiser said they see five to 10 cases in Galveston County each year, and a death "every few years."

RELATED: Bacteria found in raw shellfish linked to two deaths in Connecticut

Symptoms can include diarrhea, stomach cramping, nausea, vomiting, fever, chills, cellulitis, and blistering lesions.

Those who are immune suppressed, have liver disease, and/or diabetes are asked to refrain from consuming raw shellfish and recreating in coastal waters.

If you experience any of the mentioned symptoms after consuming undercooked shellfish such as oysters and clams or after recreating in coastal areas, officials say to consult with your doctor.

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