Flesh-eating bacteria found in raw shellfish linked to two CT deaths also blamed for LI death


The death of a Long Island resident has been linked to a flesh-eating bacteria found in raw shellfish or seawater that has also been blamed for two deaths in Connecticut, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said Wednesday.

Vibrio vulnificus, a bacterium that can cause skin breakdown and ulcers, was identified in a Suffolk County resident who died recently, Hochul said.

“While rare, the vibrio bacteria has unfortunately made it to this region and can be extraordinarily dangerous,” Hochul said in a news release.

The death in Suffolk County is still being investigated to determine if the bacteria was encountered in New York waters or elsewhere.

Precautions for avoiding the potentially deadly bacteria include protecting open wounds from seawater and, for those with compromised immune systems, forgoing raw or undercooked shellfish, she said.

The death in Suffolk County is being investigated to determine if the bacteria was encountered in New York waters or elsewhere, the governor said, adding that health care providers should consider Vibrio vulnificus when seeing patients with severe wound infections or sepsis.

“While we continue to investigate the source of this rare infection, it is important for residents to remain aware and vigilant on precautions that can be taken,” said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone. “As always, if any residents have health concerns we encourage them to contact their health care provider.”

Health officials say anyone can get vibriosis, the illness caused by the bacteria, but those with liver disease, cancer or a weakened immune system, or people taking medicine to decrease stomach acid levels may be more susceptible to infection or more likely to develop complications.

The two people who died in Connecticut were among three in the state known to have been infected with the Vibrio vulnificus bacteria this year, Connecticut heath officials said. All were between the ages of 60 and 80, the officials said.

Top: A basket of oysters is ready for packaging and delivery at Copps Island Oysters on Aug. 9, 2021, in Norwalk, Conn. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)