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20/07/17: Raw oyster consumption continues, as do vibriosis outbreaks

SOysters-raw_406x250ince the beginning of June, Public Health Officials have investigated multiple reports of people developing vibriosis symptoms after consuming raw oysters at several restaurants and markets in Seattle-King County area.

There are now 25 confirmed and probable victims who all experienced the watery diarrhea, abdominal cramping and vomiting of vibriosis, as reported by Public Health of Seattle-King County.

“Environmental health inspectors conducted on site investigations to ensure that the oysters were from approved sources, being cold held properly at refrigeration temperatures at or below 41 degrees F and handled in such a way to minimize the risk of cross-contaminations,” according to the update this week from the public health officials.

“The Vibrio bacterium is naturally found in salty, brackish waters where oysters are grown. Therefore, while temperature violations before and after delivery to restaurants can contribute to the growth of Vibrio, the restaurants are not the direct source of Vibrio in oysters.”

Health officials have asked that anyone who has eaten raw oysters in the Seattle area and developed symptoms of vibriosis report the illness to assist with the investigation into the source of the bacteria.

Advice to consumers
It’s routine for local public health officials to report vibrio illnesses to the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) Shellfish Program, which is responsible for tracking the harvest locations of the oysters implicated in these illnesses. When multiple illnesses are tracked to a common growing area, enforcement will close the implicated harvest locations. The DOH Shellfish Program website is regularly updated with information on areas closed to harvesting.

Anyone who has eaten raw oysters in the Seattle area recently and developed symptoms of vibriosis should seek medical attention and tell their doctors of the possible exposure to the bacteria so the proper diagnostic tests can be performed.

Symptoms include watery diarrhea, bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting, headache and fever. People are usually sick for one to seven days, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People usually become sick within 24 hours of eating contaminated seafood.