DHEC warns of shellfish illness

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCIV) -- Three cases of Vibrio cholerae were confirmed in a laboratory by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, officials said.

According to DHEC, the cases stemmed from people who had eaten raw shellfish recently.

"We are working with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and many partners to identify the source of the contaminated shellfish," said Linda Bell, M.D. and state epidemiologist. "We are informing health care providers of the situation and will continue to monitor the state for additional cases."

Officials said there is no evidence the illness is linked to shellfish that originated in South Carolina waters. But officials are asking health care providers to watch for people who become sick after eating shellfish.

DHEC is also alerting restaurants around the state of the threat.

"The elderly, young and immune compromised are particularly at risk of developing illness from consuming raw shellfish," said Dr. Bell. "The best way to protect yourself and your family from getting the Vibrio illness is to thoroughly cook all shellfish before eating it."

Symptoms of Vibrio cholerae include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea that begin from a few hours to up to five days after consumption of raw shellfish. The infection is usually mild or without symptoms, but can occasionally be severe. In severe cases, an infected person may experience profuse watery{}diarrhea{}and vomiting that can cause dehydration and shock.

Officials said the illness does not cause cholera.