"Raw, tainted shellfish" (mainly oysters) in Florida
- c oliver Oct 11, 2013 11:48 AM
Just saw this article. Ten people have died.
Living in Florida near the Indian River Lagoon makes me leery of eating any raw shellfish from our waters. Not only is it wise to avoid eating fish from our inland waters it seems it is not safe to enter the waters. Nonetheless, I missed where in the article it states that fatalities were from ingesting shellfish. The one fatality discussed in the article was a man who was infected through a wound on his leg or foot. I went to the CDC site listed as a reference at the bottom of the article, and that site only provides general information about the bacterium, how to avoid it, etc. and not specific incidences of infection. I don't see that the article is the indictment of the Florida shellfish industry implied by the headline.
This is a pretty normal rate. Nothing new here. This is in the normal news cycle when somebody out of state finds out that there are things in the subtropics that want to eat them.
While this has always been present, we are looking for the return of malaria and dengue fever due to warming trends. Yellow fever may also return, but it still responds to medication.
And since the article states that people with compromised immune systems are most at risk, Darwin wins again.
Oysters CAN be a source of the toxic bacteria but we don't HAVE any Florida oysters. The Florida oyster industry is defunct as a consequence of the man-made destruction of the Apalachicola oyster habitat, which historically supplied 10% of the US demand.
None of the human casualties from the bacterial infections that I have read about were a result of tainted shellfish, all were related to bacteria entering open wounds or nasal passages of those swimming or wading in warm fresh, brackish, or salt water. Still scary as not all had weakened immune systems.
Florida Gulf area raw bars have been sourcing oysters from Alabama, Louisiana and Texas.
Now that I think about it, is this bacterium, vibrio, the one that delucacheesemonger warns about? I remember there was something he won't eat in summer. And it's not just Florida waters but all the warm gulf waters.
Those bacteria can get you whether you are swimming or dining. Damn. As a survivor of bacterial meningitis, I find this is creepy stuff and I am learning more about it here. The risk is low but should not be ignored. I must have a guardian angel for as many as I have eaten without a problem.
I never eat raw oysters that have originated from any place south of the Chesapeake. However, Vibrio can also occur in Northern waters. This summer I was on chemo, and at one point was seriously immunocompromised with a very low WBC count. (Fortunately I stayed healthy.) I asked my son, a Dr in the Boston area, if I could safely eat raw shellfish. He told me to avoid them- it would be a shame for me to survive cancer only to die of Vibrio. To illustrate, he told me of a patient he knew of in Boston who had recently died of Vibrio, from eating regional oysters. So it can happen here. But the chances are just so much greater in warmer southern waters. FWIW, I'm off chemo and my bloodwork is excellent, and I'm off to Boston today, where I'll eat raw oysters with my son!