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Man dies after eating raw oysters from seafood stand near St. Louis

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A man died after eating raw oysters from a seafood stand in the St. Louis suburb of Manchester, health officials announced Friday. Officials are urging the public to dispose of any oysters purchased recently from the business after the 54-year-old's death.

The culprit in Thursday's death is the Vibrio vulnificus bacteria, which doesn't make an oyster look, smell, or taste any different. The oysters were probably already contaminated when they arrived at the stand, St. Louis County Public Health said in a news release. The man had eaten them sometime in the past week.

The release said the business, the Fruit Stand & Seafood, is cooperating with the investigation and that there is no evidence that the business did anything to contaminate them. Health officials are trying to determine their source.

In March, a study found that Vibrio vulnificus cases could increase and occur in more places due warming waters caused by climate change.

How to reduce your risk of vibriosis 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says about 80,000 people get vibriosis in the U.S. each year, and about 100 people die from it.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you can reduce your risk of vibriosis by following these tips:

  • Don't eat raw or undercooked oysters or other shellfish. Cook them before eating.
  • Always wash your hands with soap and water after handing raw shellfish.
  • Avoid contaminating cooked shellfish with raw shellfish and its juices.
  • Stay out of salt water or brackish water if you have a wound (including from a recent surgery, piercing, or tattoo), or cover your wound with a waterproof bandage if there's a possibility it could come into contact with salt water or brackish water, raw seafood, or raw seafood juices. Brackish water is a mixture of fresh and salt water. It is often found where rivers meet the sea.
  • Wash wounds and cuts thoroughly with soap and water if they have been exposed to seawater or raw seafood or its juices.
  • If you develop a skin infection, tell your medical provider if your skin has come into contact with salt water or brackish water, raw seafood, or raw seafood juices.
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