North Dakota lawmaker dies from bacterial infection linked to raw oysters

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A former longtime lawmaker in North Dakota died Oct. 30 after contracting a bacterial infection linked to eating raw oysters, reports WDSU News 6.

Former state Rep. Rae Ann Kelsch was hospitalized last weekend during a trip to New Orleans. She went into septic shock Oct. 28 and died Oct. 30 at age 58.

Physicians said they believe Ms. Kelsch contracted vibrio vulnificus bacteria. Humans can contract vibriosis by eating raw shellfish, such as oysters, or by having open wounds exposed to seawater, as the bacteria naturally live in warm, brackish water. Infections attributed to the bacteria are rare but can be fatal for individuals with weakened immune systems.

A spokesperson for the Louisiana Department of Health shared the following statement with WDSU News 6:

"The Department of Health was made aware of this unfortunate situation. We have reached out to the family and we have begun our formal investigation. Investigations such as these are confidential, but we will alert the media and the public if necessary for public safety and awareness."

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