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Safe Oysters

The following information is for health care providers, food and health educators, consumers, fishermen and commercial processors.

Vibrio bacteria are naturally present in marine waters. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimate 8,000 Vibrio infections and 60 deaths occur every year in the United States. Vibrio vulnificus is the most dangerous of Vibrios and can cause serious infections (50-67% fatality rate) in people with: liver disease, diabetes, alcoholism, cancer, weakended immune systems, kidney disease or failure, HIV / AIDS, stomach disorders or iron overload disease. People without these conditions are NOT at risk for serious infections.

Symptoms of infection may be vague or include: Gastroenteritis/abdominal pain, fevers/chills, hemorrhagic bullous skin lesions on trunk or extremities that develop into necrotic ulcers, septicemia, hypotension and shock. Healthy patients are not at risk for serious illness but may experience severe cellulitis from wound infection or gastroenteritis from eating raw or undercooked shellfish, especially oysters and mussels.

Avoid infections by: eliminating or minimizing exposure to seawater (especially in Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic); protect wounds from seawater exposure; avoid punctures, scrapes, or cuts while fishing and handling raw seafood; wear protective gloves and eyeware when shucking oysters; eat cooked shellfish; avoid eating raw or undercooked oysters and mussles; and do not contaminate cooked seafood with seawater or juices from raw seafood.

Georgia bans the harvesting of oysters during summer months when Vibrio vulnificus is most prevalent in our coastal waters.

To learn more about Vibrio vulnificus, please visit


Created by the University of Georgia Marine Extension Service, Georgia Sea Grant, California Sea Grant Extension Program and the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, SafeOysters.org is a gateway to Vibrio vulnificus information for healthcare providers, food and health educators, consumers, fishermen and commercial processors.


Tori Stivers

Seafood Specialist, P.O. Box 2156, Peachtree City, GA 30269
Email: tstivers@uga.edu
Phone: 770-460-2506