GALVESTON, Texas (WFLA) — A Texas man died of a deadly bacterial infection after eating raw oysters, according to local health officials.
Officials with the Galveston County Health District in Texas announced the man’s cause of death to be Vibrio vulnificus infection last week.
“The resident who died in Galveston County was a male, within the thirty-to-forty-year age range and had underlying health conditions that predisposed him to vibrio infection,” the department wrote in a news release.
Officials said the unusually warm ocean water, seen around states like Texas and Florida, has contributed to an increase in Vibrio infections. Five people in the Tampa Bay Area, for instance, were previously confirmed to have died from Vibrio since January. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had also recently issued an advisory following fatal infections in Connecticut, New York and North Carolina.
At the time, the CDC said climate change and rising sea surface temperatures were likely fueling the infections, and warned those with underlying health conditions to avoid coastal waters.
“Individuals that are immune suppressed, have liver disease, and or diabetes should refrain from consuming raw shellfish and recreating in coastal waters,” the Galveston County Health District echoed in its release.
Vibrio vulnificus bacteria can cause infections via ingestion or a wound. Both methods of infection can cause death, though infections that spread to the bloodstream (causing sepsis) are more common via ingestion. People with such infections have a mortality rate of 50%, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Infections can also cause diarrhea, cramps, nausea, vomiting, cellulitis, blistering lesions, fever and chills. When the bacteria enters through an open wound, victims are at risk of necrotizing fasciitis — i.e., the death of living tissue — as well.