Be Careful When Handling Crabs

Posted on April 16, 2007

The German Press Agency is reporting that a man in Singapore died after he obtained a case of flesh-eating bacteria called Vibrio when the crab he was preparing for supper pricked him.

A man pricked by a live crab he was preparing for dinner died 48 hours later in a rare case of flesh-eating bacteria infection from seafood, a news report said Thursday. Tan Boon Hock, 83, put a bandage on the small cut but began vomiting and suffering diarrhoea hours later. He was rushed to the Accident and Emergency Department of the National University Hospital.

"The doctors told us that he had been infected by a rare flesh-eating bacteria called Vibrio, and ... it was most likely that the crab spread the bacteria to him," The Straits Times quoted son Tan Aik Cheng as saying.

In a bid to prevent the virulent bacteria from spreading throughout his body, doctors amputated the patient's arm, but it was too late.

Cooking destroys the Vibrio vulnificus bacteria but freezing and refrigeration do not. The article says doctors have advised people handling live crabs to wear "use tongs or gloves." This sounds like excellent advice. The CDC's page on Vibrio vulnificus says it is rare in the United States. It is also listed here in the FDA's bad bug book. An article here says an Eastern Shore Maryland fisherman died from Vibrio vulnificus in 2005. There is also a safety article provided here for fisherman.

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