Vibrio parahaemolyticus has sickened 12 people in three states and the District of Columbia.

Crab meat from Venezuela has been found to be the reason for an outbreak of a foodborne illness that’s sickened 12 people across three states and the District of Columbia, WVUE-TV (New Orleans) is reporting.

Vibrio parahaemolyticus is a bacterial illness that sometimes turns up in seafood. And as of this writing, it’s turned up in Louisiana, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C. Of the 12 people sickened by the bacterium, four have been hospitalized, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

This time around, it turned up in crab meat that originated in Venezuela. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) authorities are currently trying to pin down how the bacterium entered the supply and to where it was distributed.

For now, the illness appears to be limited to pre-cooked, chilled crab meat sold in grocery stores, as opposed to boiled or steamed crab sold in restaurants. Nevertheless, authorities are warning consumers to ask restaurants where the crab meat they’re serving came from, and to avoid it if it came from Venezuela. Similarly, consumers are urged not to purchase pre-cooked, chilled crab meat from grocery stores unless you can determine its origin.

Cooking seafood generally kills any harmful bacteria, but contaminants can re-emerge during the chilling process.

Vibrio parahaemolyticus is one of the main causes of gastroenteritis (that is, abdominal pain and illness from a contaminant). Symptoms of Vibrio infection generally appear within about 24 hours, but the timing can vary. Symptoms generally include abdominal pain and diarrhea. Diarrhea can sometimes be bloody.

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In most patients, the disease clears up on its own and runs its course. However, in people with weakened immune systems, as well as small children and the elderly, the disease can be much more severe.

Unfortunately, Vibrio doesn’t cause infected food to look, taste or smell different, so it’s impossible to tell if food is spoiled with the bacteria without scientific testing.

This is the second foodborne illness outbreak to hit the next this week. Officials are currently trying to contain an outbreak of cyclosporiasis, a foodborne illness linked to a parasite.

As Food Safety News reports, the parasitic infection has sickened at least 95 people in Illinois and Iowa, and the illness appears to be tied to McDonald’s salads.

And in what may have been the most widespread, and most fatal, of foodborne illnesses this year, an E Coli outbreak, linked to romaine lettuce from Arizona, sickened over 100 people in over two dozen states.





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