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Vibrio Outbreak Traced To Crab Meat From Venezuela

Jul 16, 2018 07:26 PM EDT
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An outbreak of Vibrio parahaemolyticus has swept through four different states with health officials tracing it to fresh crab imported from Venezuela.

The Vibrio bacteria is wreaking havoc in a multi-state flare-up. Investigation is still ongoing at the moment, but the infection has been tracked to have come from South American crab meat.

The Outbreak

The Food and Drug Administration reports that there are 12 cases of Vibrio parahaemolyticus as of Thursday, July 12.

Four of all the cases match the outbreak strain identified by Pulsed Field Gel Electrophoresis, which is a DNA fingerprinting technique. All four of these are found in Maryland.

A total of eight cases have been reported in Maryland and two in Louisiana. Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia have one case each.

The dates of the illnesses range from April 1 to July 3. Four of the 12 have also been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.

CDC says that the infected people range from 26 to 69 years old, and 67 percent of them are female.

Since the illness has been traced to crab meat from South America, consumers are advised to inquire about the source of their seafood before purchasing crabs in restaurants or supermarkets. These crabs from Venezuela are reportedly placed in plastic tubs and are labeled as "pre-cooked."

FDA and the state are both working to figure out where the Vibrio contamination is from. Officials are also making sure to remove it from the food supply.

About Vibrio Parahaemolyticus

Vibrio parahaemolyticus is a bacteria, which is part of the same family as the one that causes cholera. It lives in brackish saltwater, often found in the coastal waters of United States and Canada, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. People usually get sick by eating contaminated shellfish.

Vibrio often crops up as gastrointestinal illness in humans, while symptoms include watery diarrhea, abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting, fever, and chills. All these symptoms usually manifest within 24 hours of exposure to the bacteria. The skin can also get infected if an open wound is contaminated.

Fortunately, illness from Vibrio is self-limited and only lasts for about three days. However, there are rare cases that are more severe, especially in people with weak immune systems.

Some of the ways to prevent infection include cooking seafood thoroughly, separating raw and other foods, cleaning hands and tools to avoid contamination, and avoiding exposing open wounds to warm seawater.

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