The Maryland Department of Health is warning people to avoid eating crab meat imported from Venezuela after a string of bacterial Vibrio infections.
At least nine people have been sickened after they say they ate “fresh” (non-pasteurized) crab meat, which comes in a plastic tub, with labels indicating it was imported from Venezuela.
The crab meat is sold under different brand names, both in stores and served in restaurants. It has been included in different dishes, including crab cakes, seafood salad, and crab benedict.
Vibrio parahaemolyticus infection causes watery diarrhea, abdominal cramping,
nausea, vomiting, fever, and chills. Of the nine cases confirmed in Maryland, two of the people were hospitalized. There have been no deaths linked to the crab meat.
According to the health department, “Vibrio infections can be caused by ingestion of Vibrio-containing water or shellfish and by direct skin exposure to Vibrio-containing salt or brackish water.”
No Maryland crab products have been associated with this cluster, so local crab is considered safe to eat. Anyone who believes they have recently had imported crab meat from Venezuela and is experiencing Vibrio symptoms should call their doctor.
The Maryland Department of Health will continue to investigate the cluster of infections. In the meantime, they ask everyone to avoid eating non-pasteurized imported crab until further notice.
-Meg Walburn Viviano