The Herald reports that the Florida Department of Health urges high-risk Floridians to avoid consuming raw oysters, which often harbor the naturally occurring bacteria Vibrio vulnificus.
“It’s important to understand that most cases of Vibrio vulnificus can be avoided by taking the proper precautions,” health secretary M. Rony Fran ‘ois said in a recent news release. “There are several cooking techniques individuals in high-risk groups can use to enjoy oysters while remaining safe.”
Those most at-risk for developing serious illness from Vibrio vulnificus include heavy drinkers with liver damage and people with certain health conditions such as liver disease, diabetes, cancer, stomach disorders or any illness or treatment that weakens the immune system.
Thoroughly cooking oysters, either by frying, stewing or roasting, eliminates harmful bacteria and viruses in the meat, health officials said.
Consuming raw oysters that have undergone a post-harvest treatment process to eliminate the bacteria can also reduce the risk of illness.
Initial symptoms of Vibrio vulnificus infection can include mild nausea, vomiting or diarrhea, followed by distinctive swollen skin lesions and septicemia.
If someone experiences these symptoms after consuming raw oysters, they should contact their physician immediately for diagnosis and to receive antibiotic treatment.