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Atlanta Woman Dies After Eating Contaminated Oysters

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An Atlanta woman died on August 10, 2007 after eating raw oysters at a Spondivit’s Seafood & Steaks in south Atlanta. The 52 year old woman, whose name has not been released, became infected with Vibrio vulnificus, a bacteria known to contaminate shellfish harvested from the Gulf of Mexico in warm summer months.

Fulton County officials closed Spondivit’s for 24 hours after finding multiple violations of safe food handling practices while investigating the woman’s death.

James Howgate, director of Fulton’s division of population health, said the health department has prohibited the restaurant from serving any type of shellfish, raw or cooked.

The CDC recommends taking the following precautions to help prevent infection with Vibrio vulnificus:

• Do not eat raw oysters or other raw shellfish.
• Cook shellfish (oysters, clams, mussels) thoroughly.
• For shellfish in the shell, either a) boil until the shells open and continue boiling for 5 more minutes, or b) steam until the shells open and then continue cooking for 9 more minutes. Do not eat those shellfish that do not open during cooking. Boil shucked oysters at least 3 minutes, or fry them in oil at least 10 minutes at 375°F.
• Avoid cross-contamination of cooked seafood and other foods with raw seafood and juices from raw seafood.
• Eat shellfish promptly after cooking and refrigerate leftovers.
• Avoid exposure of open wounds or broken skin to warm salt or brackish water, or to raw shellfish harvested from such waters.
• Wear protective clothing (e.g., gloves) when handling raw shellfish.

For more information on this subject matter, please refer to our section on Defective and Dangerous Products.