Maybe Cool It on the Bivalves This Summer


Next time you’re at your favorite neighborhood bar, sipping on some orange wine and eyeing the $1 oyster menu (happy hour!!), you might want to think twice about ordering a round of mollusks for the table. Sure, they’re delicious aphrodisiacs, but are they worth the risk?

Consider this: a 71-year-old man recently died after contracting a bacterial infection from eating raw oysters. According to the Sun Sentinel, the infection is rare, but can be contracted from “eating tainted raw shellfish” that has been exposed to the Vibrio vulnificus bacteria, which “lives in warm, brackish seawater.” Brackish means slightly salty or briny, and I’m no expert, but I’ve 100% heard waiters straight-up refer to oysters as briny, and I’m not sure what to make of that.

But okay—the unidentified man is the first confirmed death from Vibrio vulnificus (sometimes inaccurately referred to as a flesh-eating bacteria) in Sarasota County in the last two years. And the Sun-Sentinel adds that those with weakened immune systems are at a greater risk of contracting infections. So you’re probably fine eating raw oysters; the CDC estimates that Vibrio vulnificus is responsible for 100 deaths every year in the U.S., which… seems low considering the number of people to eat oysters every year.

So, you’re probably fine. Eat raw oysters, or don’t. I’m not the police, nor am I a public health specialist. No need to hear my voice in the back of your head next time you want to indulge on the half-priced raw bar. No need at all.

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