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“One shell of an oyster!”

Oyster Health Advisory

(Issued by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services; www.freshfromflorida.com)

 “If you eat raw oysters you need to be aware that certain health conditions put some people at risk of serious illness or death and these people should not eat raw oysters. Vibrio vulnificus is a bacterium that occurs naturally in marine waters. It is not a threat to most healthy people, but Vibrio vulnificus can cause sudden chills, fever, nausea, vomiting, blood poisoning and death within two days in people with certain medical conditions…

Fully cooking oysters completely kills the bacteria, so you can continue to enjoy oysters in many cooked preparations. When dining at restaurants, order oysters fully cooked if you have one of the risk conditions. Eating raw oysters with hot sauce or while drinking alcohol does NOT kill the bacteria.

You are at risk of being infected by Vibrio vulnificus if you have any of the following conditions:

  • Liver disease, either from an excessive alcohol intake (two to three drinks daily), viral hepatitis or other causes. (Liver disease will put you at increased risk for Vibrio vulnificus infection from raw oysters. The risk of infection is 200 times greater for individuals with liver disease than those without liver disease.)
  • Iron disorder hemochromatosis.
  • Diabetes.
  • Cancer.
  • Stomach problems, including previous stomach surgery and low stomach acid (for example, from antacid use).
  • Immune disorders, including HIV infection long-term steroid use, e.g., asthma and arthritis

If you are an older adult, you may be at greater risk of having these conditions than a younger person. If you are or think you may be in any of these risk categories, you should not eat raw oysters. If you are unsure of your risk check with your doctor.”