December 15, 2017

Oyster Vibrio Cases in Washington Increase to 25

The King County Public Health Department has updated their investigation into the vibrio outbreak linked to raw oysters in Washington state. Now as many as 25 people are sick. Those patients ate raw oysters at several restaurants and purchased from several markets.

Oysters on Plate

These illnesses were reported to the Washington State Department of Health Shellfish Program. This outbreak may result in closure of certain harvest locations or other enforcement actions after investigation.

Environmental Health inspectors conduct investigations at each retail or restaurant location reported in an outbreak. They make sure that the oysters were purchased from approved sources, were held at proper temperatures, at or below 41°F, and handled to minimize the risk of cross-contamination. Bacteria from one contaminated oyster can spread to others, and utensils and work surfaces can be contaminated.

While these violations can contribute to the growth and spread of the Vibrio bacteria, the restaurants are not the direct source of the bacteria, according to King County Public Health. Vibrio bacteria grow in marine waters, and their numbers increase in the summer months. Since oysters are filter feeders, they ingest the bacteria along with food. Vibrio become concentrated in the shellfish’s flesh.

The main risk factor for acquiring a Vibrio infection is eating undercooked or raw shellfish, especially oysters, in the warm weather months. People can also contract the infection by going into brackish or salt water with open wounds, including scrapes and cuts.

Officials have released a list of the seven restaurants and venues that sold the raw oysters along with the number of people sickened after they ate there or purchased the shellfish there. They include Salted Sea at 4915 Rainier Avenue South in Seattle (11 patients), Wild Salmon Seafood Market at 1900 West Nickerson Street in Seattle (4 patients), Chinooks at 1900 West Nickerson Street in Seattle (1 patient), The White Swan Public House at 1001 Fairview Avenue in Seattle (6 patients), Costco Wholesale #1225 at 7725 188th Avenue Northeast in Redmond (1 patient), Matt’s Rotisserie & Oyster Lounge at 7325 166th Avenue NE Ste. F210 in Redmond (1 patient), and Elliott’s Oyster House at 1201 Alaskan Way Pier 56 in Seattle (1 patient).

To prevent Vibrio infections, cook shellfish and other seafood thoroughly before eating. Always wash cutting boards and utensils used for preparing raw shellfish before preparing other foods. And wash your hands well with soap and water after handling raw shellfish.

 

 

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