Report – NBC 6 South Florida
A man died after contracting a bacterial infection while eating a raw oyster at the Rustic Inn Crabhouse in Fort Lauderdale, according to the Sun Sentinel.
Restaurant manager Gary Oreal declined to speak on camera Wednesday, but told NBC 6 the deceased man worked at the restaurant 20 years ago and recently stopped to eat with his family. He also said they haven’t heard of any other customers who have fallen ill after eating oysters there.
Oreal also told the Sun Sentinel that the restaurant was serving up to 100 dozen oysters at the time and the man was the only person who got sick.
“He had that one in a billion that was bad,” Oreal told the Sun Sentinel. “I feel awful.”
The man’s death was attributed to the bacteria, vibrio vulnificuscommonly found in raw or undercooked seafood, such as oysters.
The Florida Department of Health in Broward confirmed to NBC 6 on Wednesday that it is investigating the death of a person involving the bacteria.
The health department did not confirm to NBC 6 how the person contracted the infection, but records show that last month inspectors visited the Rustic Inn Crabhouse in Fort Lauderdale after someone ate there. raw oysters and got sick. The inspection noted that the person had visited the restaurant on July 20. A complaint was filed with the health department eight days later.
Oreal told the Sun Sentinel that inspectors went to the kitchen and looked at the oyster inventory the day after the man was hospitalized, but they passed with flying colors and were allowed to continue selling oysters.
Neither the restaurant nor the health department identified the deceased man.
Oreal told the Sun Sentinel that the oysters being served now come from Louisiana, so if there were to be a problem, they would know because other customers would have gotten sick as well.
“Oysters are at the top of the mountain for dangerous foods to eat,” Oreal told the Sun Sentinel. “I’ve eaten it all my life and I will continue to. But you put yourself in danger when you do.
According to the Florida Department of Health website, there have been 26 cases in 2022 people in Florida who have been infected with the bacterium Vibrio vulnificus. Six of them fell ill and later died.
Pensacola man dies after contracting bacteria from oysters he bought at a market, the Pensacola News Journal reported. These oysters also came from Louisiana.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that an oyster containing Vibrio will not look, smell or taste any different from other oysters and this may occur more often from May through October when water temperatures are warmer.
“Vibrio vulnificus is a problem we’ve had for years,” said Dr. Mary Jo Trepka, professor of epidemiology at Florida International University. “It’s a bacterium that occurs naturally in salt or brackish water.”
Dr. Trepka said that any time you eat raw or undercooked seafood, you are at risk of infection.
“That’s why when you go to a restaurant, there’s often a little message on the menu that raw, undercooked seafood can be dangerous,” she said. “It can absolutely be dangerous. I think people forget that.
The Health Department inspection at the Rustic Inn found that oyster-specific consumer advisory requirements were not posted when an investigator stopped in late July. The restaurant manager told NBC 6 that they have since posted additional signs throughout the restaurant warning customers of the dangers of eating raw oysters.
Dr Trepka said vibrio infections are rare. Symptoms include diarrhea and vomiting or wound infections. She said people who are immunocompromised or have chronic liver disease are most at risk of serious infection.
The health department advises that if vibrio vulnificus is suspected, treatment should be initiated immediately for antibiotics to be most effective. The FDA has a seafood hotline at 1-800-332-4010. It offers information on the potential dangers of eating raw oysters.
The CDC estimates that about 80,000 people get vibriosis and about 100 people die from it in the United States each year.
According to the Sun Sentinel, 500 to 1,000 people a day dine at Fort Lauderdale’s iconic seafood restaurant this time of year.
“In 60 years we’ve served a few billion oysters and we’ve never had anyone get sick like this guy,” Oreal told the newspaper.