A South Florida man who died after eating raw oysters last month also had a number of drugs in his system including cocaine and Fentanyl, a medical examiner's report said.
The report from the Broward County Medical Examiner said 44-year-old Roger Pinckney tested positive for cannabis, cocaine, Fentanyl, oxycodone and opiates after his death on July 31.
Pinckney's blood also revealed positive results for vibrio vulnificus, a bacteria found in warm seawater.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 80,000 people nationwide get infected with vibrio every year with 100 of them dying from the infection. You can become infected by exposing an open sore to seawater or by eating raw or undercooked oysters or shellfish.
The medical examiner's report said Pinckney had been out celebrating his birthday on July 23 and was hospitalized with a fever and abdominal pain after consuming oysters.
The report didn't say where exactly Pinckney became infected with the bacteria but records show the Florida Department of Health in Broward responded to the Rustic Inn Crabhouse in Fort Lauderdale after someone ate raw oysters there and became sick.
Gary Oreal, who manages the Rustic Inn, told the South Florida SunSentinel that the man who died had worked years ago at the restaurant famous for garlic crabs.
“Over the course of 60 years, we have served a couple billion oysters, and we never had anyone get sick like this guy did,” Oreal said.
The restaurant has a sign to warn patrons about the risks of eating raw shellfish.
“Oysters are top of the mountain for dangerous foods to eat,” Oreal said. “I have eaten them my entire life, and will continue. But you are putting yourself at risk when you do it.”
The report said while Pinckney was hospitalized he began "experiencing necrotizing fasciitis due to the bacteria." Necrotizing fasciitis is also known as a flesh-eating disease.
Pinckney went into multi-organ failure and was placed on continuous dialysis before he passed away, the report said.
The Florida Department of Health says 26 people have become infected with the bacteria and six of them later died after eating raw shellfish, including oysters, so far this year. In 2021, 10 people died out of 34 people sickened. In 2020, there were seven deaths among the 36 who became ill.
“Vibrio vulnificus is a problem that we’ve had for years,” said Dr. Mary Jo Trepka, a professor of epidemiology at Florida International University. "It is a bacteria that occurs naturally in saltwater or brackish water."
Dr. Trepka said anytime you eat raw or undercooked seafood, you run the risk of infection.
"That’s why when you go to the restaurant, there’s often a little message on the menu saying raw, undercooked seafood can be dangerous,” she said. "It absolutely can be dangerous. I think people just forget about that."