North Carolina

Fatal infection linked to shellfish wasn’t from North Carolina oysters, officials say

A North Carolina man died after getting an infection often linked to shellfish, and officials say the contaminated oysters didn’t come from the state’s coast.

The Cary man’s death Thursday was from vibrio vulnificus, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services said. The bacteria can cause infections typically associated with eating raw or undercooked shellfish, according to health officials.

The man reportedly had oysters before he died, but officials haven’t shared where the man ate them, according to news outlets.

Now, environmental officials say the death wasn’t connected to oysters from North Carolina waters, WWAY reports.

“The oyster supply likely came from several states,” Shannon Jenkins, section chief for the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries’ Shellfish Sanitation and Recreational Water Quality department, told the Wilmington Star News.

Jenkins says North Carolina has regulations to reduce vibrio bacteria growth, but it’s impossible to “completely remove all of the risk,” according to Coastal Review Online.

“Most infections caused by Vibrio parahaemolyticus and Vibrio vulnificus in the United States can be prevented by thoroughly cooking seafood, especially oysters,” state health officials say.

Vibrio infections through food can cause “diarrhea, often accompanied by abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting, fever, and chills,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

People can also get Vibrio infections when open wounds come in contact with salty water, according to the North Carolina health department.

Nationally, there are about 80,000 cases each year, with most infections happening from May to October, the CDC estimates. People with weakened immune systems are most at risk, the agency says.

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