The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control is warning against eating raw shellfish after confirming three cases of people who got sick after eating raw shellfish.

The people got sick because of Vibrio cholerae, a bacteria that causes gastroenteritis.

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.

To be safe, DHEC is advising people to eat only cooked shellfish.

“We are working with the Food and Drug Administration 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.”

There is no evidence that the contaminated shellfish originated in the waters of South Carolina.

DHEC is asking local health-care providers to watch for people who become sick or show symptoms of Vibrio cholerae after eating raw shellfish. The agency is also notifying South Carolina restaurants of the potential for contaminated shellfish.

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