How Raw Oysters Led To Two Tragic Deaths In Florida

Oysters are a controversial food; you either love them or hate them. Shellfish is among the most expensive seafood products and is considered a luxury food. Some people even swear by oysters' aphrodisiac qualities.

Oysters can be served in a multitude of different ways, including fried, baked, and raw. Fried oysters retain their briny, creamy interior while providing a crunchy element not found in their natural state. You may find fried oysters inside a po'boy sandwich. One of the quintessential preparations for baked oysters is called Oysters Rockefeller. The oysters are cooked in a rich sauce with butter, spinach, garlic, and anise-flavored liqueur (via Food and Wine).

Eating an oyster raw is a popular choice; however, it may not be the safest way to consume oysters. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), raw or undercooked oysters may contain bacteria called Vibrio that can cause an illness called vibriosis. These bacteria live in coastal waters and may be present in the oyster. The bacteria are killed by fully cooking an oyster. Unfortunately, vibriosis can be fatal in certain cases.

Raw oysters may contain deadly bacteria

Tragically, two people in Florida recently died after eating oysters. In both cases, the oysters came from Louisiana. One death occurred in a man who contracted the Vibrio bacteria after eating oysters he purchased at a market. The other man had consumed raw oysters at the Rustic Inn Crabhouse in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The restaurant was shocked to hear that the man had passed away. The restaurant was inspected by the state and the manager said (via Fox), "We passed with flying colors, and we were allowed to continue to sell oysters."

When the man was taken to the hospital, doctors found Vibrio bacteria in his system. The 44-year-old man was brought to the hospital after he had abdominal pains and a fever. During his eight-day hospital stay, he developed necrotizing fasciitis, which is a flesh-eating disease. His body went into multi-organ failure before he passed away.

According to CDC estimates, around 80,000 Americans get vibriosis each year, with 100 people dying from it. Vibrio bacteria are tricky because they do not affect the smell, taste, or color of the oyster. People with compromised immune systems and those above age 65 are at higher risk of infection.

While the manager of the Rustic Inn recalled eating oysters his entire life and noted that he will continue to do so, the CDC warns against eating them raw.