For immediate release: July 23, 2009 (09-119)
Cari Franz-West Shellfish
Communications Office, 360-236-4072
illnesses prompt health advisory for recreational harvesters
of Article: http://www.doh.wa.gov/Publicat/2009_news/09-119.htm
Eating oysters raw can
make you sick; make sure to cook them properly
OLYMPIA - With the weather warm and low
tides good for harvesting shellfish, many Washington residents are heading
for the state’s beaches to collect oysters. Cooking those oysters correctly
will ensure they’re part of a safe, healthy meal.
illnesses associated with undercooked oysters have already been reported to
the state Department of Health. Recreational harvesters should follow some
simple tips to make sure the shellfish they gather are safe to eat. Most
important is to cook oysters at 145º F for 15 seconds. This will kill the
natural bacteria that thrive as the water temperatures increase.
type of bacteria that can make people sick is Vibrio parahaemolyticus,
a naturally-occurring marine bacterium that can cause vibriosis. Symptoms
can include diarrhea, nausea, stomach cramps, headache, vomiting, fever,
and chills. Symptoms usually appear within 12 to 24 hours of eating
infected shellfish. The symptoms are usually mild to moderate. They last
for two to seven days, but can be life-threatening for people with lowered
immunity or chronic liver disease.
harvesters should practice these tips when harvesting oysters this summer
to stay healthy and avoid vibriosis:
Make sure oysters are placed on ice or refrigerated immediately after
Don’t harvest oysters that have been exposed by the receding tide for a
longer than a couple of hours — if the temperature’s high, pass them by.
Always cook oysters thoroughly. Vibrio bacteria are destroyed when oysters
are cooked at 145° F for 15 seconds. Fully cooked oysters can be
contaminated again if rinsed with seawater.
information on shellfish safety is on the Department of Health Office of Shellfish and Water
Protection’s Web site (http://www.doh.wa.gov/ehp/sf/).