The community of Pensacola, Florida, has been left shocked after two visitors died last week from a bacterial infection caused by eating raw oysters.
Air Force veteran and Studer Community Institute Director of Business Engagement Rodney Jackson was among the two victims who died last Tuesday from a Vibrio infection, Pensacola News Journal reports. The other victim was 44-year-old Roger Pinckney.
Jackson purchased the oysters on Aug. 3 from Maria’s Fresh Seafood Market. By the weekend, his wife, Patricia, became alarmed after his seemingly mild symptoms worsened.
After deciding against checking into West Florida Hospital due to long wait times, Jackson was rushed to Ascension Sacred Heart ICU on Sunday when he started having trouble breathing.
There, doctors determined Jackson had Vibrio bacteria in his system and determined the cause of his death. There are different variations of Vibrio, which experts say can be easier to consume than one might think.
University of West Florida professor Dr. Robert “Wes” Farr, a physician specializing in infectious disease, told the outlet Vibrio infections are increasingly common in the warmer months.
“Serious infection is rare, but the risk is still there,” he said.
Jackson was well known and respected in North Texas for his work helping minority-business owners, WFAA reports. After years in Dallas, Jackson moved to Pensacola and continued to support the Dallas community from afar.
“Difference makers are hard to find, and people without agendas are even rarer to find,” said Pastor James Hutchins of New Life Community Church in Frisco.
“Rodney was about giving insight beyond spending. Losing the good ones always hurts more,” he said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that Vibrio bacteria doesn’t change an oyster’s look, smell, or taste, making its detection even more challenging. The agency says about 80,000 people get vibriosis in the U.S. yearly, with about 100 people dying from it.
Seafood vendors are told to contain their items at safe temperatures and hang signs informing patrons that consuming oysters is something to be done “at your own risk.”
“Everything goes through steps,” said Ray Boyer, a 21-year manager at Maria’s Seafood. “Oysters (are) just one of those items that (are) pretty much known you have to make sure you take the proper steps.”