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Posted July 31, 2017 at 2:25 pm
Updated August 23, 2017 at 1:55 pm


  • Public Health received a report of a possible Vibrio vulnificus wound infection on 7/24/17.

  • A man became ill on 7/17/17 after cutting his hand preparing tilapia purchased live on 7/16/17 from Seattle Supermarket. The man is hospitalized and is recovering slowly. His wife became ill with diarrhea and abdominal cramping on 7/17/17 after eating the prepared fish; she was not hospitalized and she has fully recovered.

  • As of 8/22/17, we have received no additional reports of persons becoming ill from Vibrio vulnificus.

  • Tilapia obtained from Seattle Supermarket tested positive for Vibrio vulnificus bacteria.

  • Frozen tilapia samples collected from the affected household tested negative for Vibrio vulnificus.

  • Environmental samples from the fish delivery truck tested positive for Vibrio vulnificus.

  • This is the second local occurrence of Vibrio vulnificus associated with handling live tilapia.

  • Seattle Supermarket has completed cleaning and disinfection of their tanks and fish processing area as advised by Public Health and has resumed live fish sales.

  • The investigation is ongoing to determine the source and distribution of the fish so that appropriate prevention and control measures are put in place.

Public Health recommendations

  • If you purchased fish at Seattle Supermarket before July 25, 2017, you should throw it away.

  • Seek healthcare immediately if you have handled or eaten fish from the Seattle Supermarket and within seven days you develop:
    • a new skin infection (signs of skin infection are redness, tenderness, swelling, streaking and skin blisters)
    • fever and chills
    • diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting
    • any unexplained serious illness


  • To reduce your chances of getting infected with Vibrio vulnificus and other bacteria:
    • Use gloves when handling raw seafood.
    • Do not handle raw seafood if you have wounds on your hands or fingers.
    • Wash your hands after handling raw shellfish and other types of seafood.
    • Wash cuts or other wounds thoroughly with soap and water if you have handled raw seafood or come in contact with seawater.
    • Stay out of saltwater if you have wounds, or cover wounds with a waterproof bandage.
    • Don't eat raw or undercooked shellfish. Cooking shellfish and other seafood to 145° F kills Vibrio bacteria.
    • If you develop signs of infection, contact your doctor and tell them if you have been in contact with seawater, handled raw seafood, or eaten raw or undercooked seafood.

  • More information about Vibrio in wounds.

Cases: 1 confirmed, 1 probable
Hospitalizations: 1
Deaths: 0
Status: Ongoing

  • Interviewed ill persons. Facilitated testing of ill family member for Vibrio vulnificus infection.
  • Collected frozen tilapia samples from affected household for testing at Washington Public Health Laboratory.
  • Contacted Seattle Supermarket to put a hold on the sale of all live fish until they completed cleaning and disinfection of their tanks and fish processing area as advised by Public Health.
  • Investigating possible sources of contamination up the supply chain. Conducted on-site investigation of Seattle Supermarket and fish delivery truck, which is operated by NWSuperfish, a tilapia distributor that made deliveries to Seattle Supermarket. Collected tilapia and environmental samples for Vibrio vulnificus testing at Washington Public Health Laboratory.
  • Working with Washington State Department of Health to investigate the source and distribution of the fish from that source.
  • Conducting assessments of live tilapia retailers in King County to identify any additional contaminations with Vibrio vulnificus.
  • Related press release and blog post.

Seattle Supermarket
4801 Beacon Ave S
Seattle, WA 98108