1 sick after eating raw shellfish in Beaufort County and Ga., DHEC says

zmurdock@beaufortgazette.comOctober 17, 2013 

THE STATE

One person is sick after eating raw shellfish in Beaufort County and Georgia, according to an S.C. environmental official.

The patient, from Georgia, is one of three confirmed cases of a food-borne bacteria called Vibrio cholerae in South Carolina, according to Jim Beasley, spokesman for the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.

The other two patients — both from South Carolina — were infected with the bacteria after eating in Columbia and near Greenville, respectively, Beasley said. The infections do not appear to be related, he added.

There is no evidence the contaminated shellfish originated in South Carolina waters, according to a DHEC news release. The department is working with the federal Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control to identify the source.

“We are informing health care providers of the situation and will continue to monitor the state for additional cases,” state epidemiologist Linda Bell said in the release.

Because the investigation is underway, Beasley wouldn’t give more specifics about the locations or the patients. In addition, he wouldn’t say whether the contamination is limited to any particular kind of shellfish.

“It’s raw shellfish, including oysters,” Beasley said.

State environmental officials are notifying South Carolina restaurants of the potential for contaminated shellfish, according to the release.

Consuming raw, improperly cooked, or cooked, re-contaminated shellfish could lead to the infection, which can cause diarrhea, abdominal cramps and fever, according to the FDA’s website.

“The elderly, young and immune-compromised are particularly at risk of developing illness from consuming raw shellfish,” Bell said in the release. “The best way to protect yourself and your family from getting the Vibrio illness is to thoroughly cook all shellfish before eating it.”

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