71-Year-Old Florida Man Dies from Flesh-Eating Bacteria After Eating Raw Oyster at Restaurant
Officials say the man had "underlying medical conditions" when he died on July 10 from vibrio vulnificus after eating raw oysters
A Florida man died earlier this month of a flesh-eating bacterial infection, just two days after eating raw oysters at a Sarasota restaurant, PEOPLE confirms.
The 71-year-old man had “underlying medical conditions” when he died on July 10 from vibrio vulnificus after eating raw oysters, G. Steve Huard, with the Florida Department of Health, tells PEOPLE. Neither his identity nor the name of the restaurant have been made public.
People can become infected with the vibrio bacteria by consuming raw or undercooked seafood or exposing a wound to seawater, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most vibrio infections from oysters result in diarrhea and vomiting. But some, including vibrio vulnificus, can cause severe illnesses, including blood infections and blistering skin, according to the CDC. Some vibrio vulnificus infections can require limb amputations or lead to death.
Last year, Jeanette LeBlanc, of Quinlan, Texas, contracted vibrio after eating several raw oysters during a crabbing trip to Louisiana with friends. She remained in the hospital for 21 days, where she underwent several surgeries as doctors fought to save her life.
“We didn’t really know anything about [vibrio] so we looked it up and we were still on the optimistic side because we didn’t know,” LeBlanc’s stepdaughter, Jennifer Bergquist, previously told PEOPLE. “It progressively got worse. They told us that her legs were getting worse. It was like her skin was dying. It looked like something was eating her skin.”
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LeBlanc died on Oct. 15, 2017.
Earlier this month, Angel Perez, of New Jersey, contracted vibrio necrotizing fasciitis after a July 2 crabbing trip. Perez, 60, is in critical condition at Cooper University Hospital and may have to have his limbs amputated.
“The infection has spread to his blood … his skin; you can see it spreading from his feet all the way above his kneecap. His forearms are black in color; they have blisters, cuts and sores,” his daughter Dilena Perez-Dilan told New Jersey Advance Media.
Vibrio infections kill 100 people in the United States each year, the CDC reports. The bacteria finds its way into oysters through coastal waters where oysters live and feed. And most people contract the bacteria between May and October, when temperatures are warm. Although anyone can contract the infection, people with certain medical conditions or compromised immune systems are at greater risk of infection.