LEE COUNTY, Fla.- A brand new case of a deadly bacteria has just been confirmed off the Florida coast.
State health officials say a 7-year-old girl in Duval County near Jacksonville contracted Vibrio vulnificus. It comes after two recent cases in Sarasota County one of them fatal. Doctors say you can get infected by eating raw shellfish.
But the Lee County Health Department says it is safe to eat cooked oysters, because the ones found in restaurants and fish markets, this time of year, come from water that is tested and deemed safe.
"These are our oysters here." Island Seafood Market owner Andy Fischer gets his oysters from Louisiana. "It's the only place they can get them where it's safe to get them right now."
He says more customers are asking questions about recent cases of Vibrio vulnificus, a deadly bacteria found in the warm Gulf water, and in some raw shellfish like oysters.
"You consume raw shellfish. The bacteria is in it. And it immediately goes into the stomach and into the blood stream," said Diane Holm, with the Lee County Health Dept.
Doctors say it is deadly, but only to half of one percent of the population. So how safe is seafood in Southwest Florida restaurants?
"Restaurants and grocers are required to purchase only shellfish that has been harvested and identified as coming from specific areas. Those areas have been checked and determined to be safe. Of course, something could always sneak in there. But they can immediately identify where it came from," said Holm.
Fischer also has some more advice: never be afraid to ask questions to your waiter, or fish market employees.
"We know where we get it from, we know where it comes from, and how they treat it. Safety is the most important thing," he said.
The other way you can get infected is if you go into the water with an open cut. Doctors say always cover your cuts before you dive in.