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Vibrio Outbreak in Washington State, Oysters Recalled

Oysters from Washington State are being recalled because they may be contaminated with Vibrio parahaemolyticus. 

The State Health Department Saturday warned that consumers should not eat oysters harvested in the Hood Canal growing area No. 4 between August 30th and September 19th because they could be carrying the bacteria, which causes an illness called vibriosis in humans. Distributors, retailers and restaurants are advised not to sell or distribute these products. 

The growing area was shut down after 5 people became ill following the consumption of raw oysters carrying the same type of Vibrio bacteria. 

Vibrio parahaemolyticus bacteria occur naturally in the environment, but can multiply in warm water to a level that is dangerous to humans.  An average of 50 cases of vibriosis are reported in Washington State per year. 

Symptoms of a Vibrio infection usually appear around 15 hours after eating the contaminated food, although they can take as long as 4 days to manifest. They include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, headache, fever and chills. 

Symptoms usually go away in 2 days to a week after onset, but can persist or cause sever illness or death in those with weakened immune system or liver disease.  Taking antacids increases one’s chances of reacting poorly to the bacteria, as decreased stomach acid reduces the body’s ability to break down the bacteria. 

If you think you may have a Vibrio infection, contact your local health department. If severe diarrhea or fever persists, contact your healthcare provider. 

Harvested shellfish should be kept refrigerated before consumption. Oysters should be cooked to a temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit in order to kill any bacteria they may contain. 

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