A shellfish growing area has reopened for shellfish harvesting after a Camyboacter outbreak closed the pond two months ago.

Potter Pond is located in South Kingstown, RI, and was under investigation by the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH), the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC), and Rhode Island of Environmental Management (DEM).

Potter Pond had been closed to shellfish harvesting because of bacterial contamination that was detected in early September. A RIDOH investigation indicated that eight people became ill after consuming raw shellfish harvested from Potter Pond and that the illnesses were because of Campylobacter bacterial contamination. The Campylobacter contamination has been linked to flocks of birds aggregating near shellfish growing areas.

The RIDOH, CRMC, and DEM have worked with Potter Pond shellfish growers to mitigate the presence of birds near shellfish growing areas in the pond. According to a RIDOH announcement, during the past several weeks, regular analysis of shellfish meats and water samples has verified that the bacteria levels in shellfish harvested from Potter Pond have returned to levels that are safe for harvest and consumption of shellfish.

About Campylobacter
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with Campylobacter infections usually have diarrhea (often bloody), fever, and stomach cramps. Nausea and vomiting may accompany diarrhea. 

Anyone who consumed shellfish from the area and developed symptoms should seek medical attention and ask for specific testing for the pathogen. The symptoms can mimic other illnesses.

Symptoms usually start two to five days after infection and last about one week. Some people experience complications, such as irritable bowel syndrome, temporary paralysis, and arthritis. In people with weakened immune systems, such as those with a blood disorder, with AIDS, or receiving chemotherapy, Campylobacter occasionally spreads to the bloodstream and causes a life-threatening infection.

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