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Man dies from gastro-intestinal illness after consuming flesh eating bacteria on oyster

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SARASOTA, FL (WWSB) -A 71-year-old man has died from a gastro-intestinal illness after consuming flesh eating bacteria on an oyster at a local restaurant.

Florida Health tells ABC7 Sarasota that the man ate the bad oyster on July 8th and died two days later from a gastro-intestinal illness. The name of the restaurant was not released.

Eating seafood or taking a swim in the water may seem like an essential summertime pastime, but you should be careful of the bacteria Vibrio vulnificus, which pops up more with the heat.

"Vibrio is a bacteria and it lives in saltwater, or brackish water, so any water that has salt in it  and it's there essentially all of the time," Said Michael Drennon, who is the Disease Intervention Services Program Manager for Florida Department of Health Sarasota County.

If you eat raw seafood, such as oysters, which are bottom feeders that filter water you could be at risk. The Florida Department of Health said if you are infected, you could see these signs.

"Diarrhea , fever, general symptoms like associated with a GI or gastrointestinal illness. That can progress to a severe illness where you get the bacteria into your blood causing you to be more sick," Said Drennon.

One local chef said restaurants do their best to make guests aware of the dangers of raw seafood.

"We are required by the state health department to post that warning on our menu for people to consume raw seafood and raw oysters , it's clearly stated on everybody's menu that there is a risk associated with that particularly if you are elderly or have a reduced immune system," Said Marc Alton, who is the Executive Chef at Fins at Sharky's.

He also said some people use the trick of only eating raw seafood during the months that end with "R".

"The summer time, May, June July there are no R's in there the water's warmer so the bacteria that's potentially hazardous to some people is more prevalent," Alton said.

Another way of contracting the illness is from going into salt water with an open wound.

"That site may be tender, raw, warm to the touch , kind of appear as a skin infection and then once again as the bacteria progresses or infection progresses, it can get into the blood causing a more severe illness," Drennon said.

The Florida Department of Health says if you experience any of the symptoms of this bacteria, seek medical care immediately.

This is the first case and fatality involving flesh eating bacteria in Sarasota County this year. Manatee County has had one case of flesh eating bacteria so far in 2018, but no fatalities.

Last year, Manatee County had two cases of flesh eating bacteria and Sarasota County had none. In 2016, Manatee County had two cases, while Sarasota County had three cases and one fatality.

The bacteria are highly susceptible to pH, cooking, and freezing and can be killed by common disinfectants such as bleach or alcohol.

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