September 16, 2019

Outbreak: Vibrio From Raw Oysters, Clams Sickens 104 in 13 States

A Vibrio outbreak associated with eating raw oysters and raw clams has sickened at least 104 people in 13 states over the last six months, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Six people have been hospitalized.

Raw OystersPublic health investigators have traced the source of some of these illnesses to shellfish harvest areas in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, and Virginia. Massachusetts issued a recall of oysters,  Connecticut issued a recall of oysters and clams. Implicated harvest areas in Virginia were closed in July and remain closed.  In Massachusetts, they were closed in August and remain closed. In New York they were closed in June and reopened in mid-September. In Connecticut, they were closed in August and reopened in mid-September.

Reports of illness began in May, peaked in July and were tapering off in September, according to the most current information available.  The investigation is ongoing. The CDC believes it “is unlikely that all harvest areas associated with illnesses have been identified. It is likely that many illnesses have occurred that were not detected through surveillance because some people do not seek medical care, diagnostic testing is not always performed, and some laboratories do not routinely use the specific culture plate necessary to test for Vibrio bacteria.”

Public health investigators gathered food histories from 82 of the people who were sickened. Seventy five of them, or 91 percent, reported eating raw oysters or raw clams in the week before illness began.

Vibrio parahaemolyticus infections are associated with improperly prepared shellfish and are characterized by diarrhea, abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting, fever and chills. People with weakened immune systems or chronic liver disease should not eat raw shellfish.

 

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