Everyone has their favorites when it comes to food. Some people like salty snacks and others can’t live without their sweets. Either group is not likely to kill you. But a woman from Texas recently indulged in her favorite food and within three weeks she was dead. What was the fatal dish she consumed? Raw oysters.
Many people live by the adage that goes “you only eat oysters in months that have the letter R in its name.” That means it is safe to eat the raw delicacy in every month except May, June July, and August. This unofficial rule may have come from the fact that those are the summer months and the dangerous bacteria that can kill you is more prevalent in very warm waters.
The 55-year old woman loved oysters and was visiting Lafayette, Louisiana and went crabbing with friends. Afterwards, she consumed some oysters she had purchased while in New Orleans. Her symptoms began with a rash and ended with flesh-eating bacteria from which she never recovered.
The dangerous bacteria are called vibrio. It can affect you if you have any open sores and enter warm water where the bacteria are prevalent. If it is in the water the chances are great that the bacteria are also inside the live oysters.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that vibrio affects more than 80,000 people each year. Not everyone dies from the bacteria but around 52,000 cases have been blamed on consuming foods that have been contaminated. Deaths from contracting vibrio are around 100 per year.
People who should be extremely cautious include those with diabetes, cancer, issues with their liver, or anyone who must take medicine to resolve stomach acid or those who have just had surgery on their stomach. There have been cases of people contracting vibrio after swimming in warm waters after just getting a tattoo. If the water contains the bacteria and the tattoo is fairly new it attracts the horrific disease.
Does this mean that you can never enjoy your favorite shellfish again? No, but it does mean you may want to shy away from eating raw foods that live in warm waters anymore. You will not run the risk of getting vibrio if you get your seafood cooked properly. Try eating your oysters steamed, fried, or boiled, any technique where they are cooked at a high temperature.
One of the main issues with contracting vibrio from oysters is you won’t know it until its too late. The contaminated oysters do not smell bad or even taste bad. The first sign of the disease is a rash that you may not give much attention to. Trouble breathing, however, is a sign that will send you to the hospital. The disease poisons your system from the inside and is extremely difficult to contain.
Whether you are cooking your own seafood or ordering it out, make sure it has been cooked at a high temperature just to be on the safe side.