PENSACOLA, Fla. — Two people have died – including a man reportedly from Dallas – of a bacterial infection after eating raw oysters in Florida, according to the Associated Press.
Both cases involved oysters from Louisiana.
The Pensacola News Journal identified the Dallas man as Rodney Jackson, who was the director of business engagement at Studer Community Institute.
Jackson was well known in North Texas. He spent a lifetime in banking and continued to help minority-business owners when he moved to Pensacola.
"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.
The Jacksons had attended the Frisco church before leaving for Jackson's home-state of Florida.
"We don't know how we're going to do it without Rodney. It's going to be very hard. But we have to do it because it's important work, and and we have to do it to honor his memory," said Rachael Gillette, executive director at Studer.
Friends told WFAA that Jackson was a self-described "foodie."
Gillette told WFAA that Jackson was in his element if he was grilling in his backyard while smoking a cigar.
"He could tell you about food on any scale. He was an expert in food," said Hutchins.
But the pastor said Jackson's real impact was helping minority-business owners navigate the banking and business world.
"Rodney was about giving insight beyond spending. Losing the good ones always hurts more," he said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Vibrio bacteria doesn’t make an oyster look, smell, or taste any different. The agency added that about 80,000 people get vibriosis in the U.S. each year, and about 100 people die from it.
The Florida Department of Health told the Associated Press that, in 2022, 26 people have become infected with the bacteria and six of them later died after eating raw shellfish, including oysters. In 2021, 34 people became sick and 10 of those died. In 2020, there were seven deaths among the 36 who became ill.
According to the Pensacola News Journal, Jackson was in Pensacola on Aug. 3 and purchased oysters Maria's Fresh Seafood Market. The newspaper also reported that Jackson's family does not blame the seafood market for his illness.
Jackson originally suffered mild symptoms, but he did not go to the hospital until Sunday, Aug. 7 after he started having trouble breathing, the newspaper reported.
Jackson's obituary says he died on Tuesday, Aug. 9, and his service was scheduled for Thursday afternoon.
For more about the restaurant's response and the Florida's procedures on preparing oysters, read the Pensacola News Journal here.
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