May 26, 2024

Shigella, Vibrio, E. coli Outbreak Linked to Raw Oysters Ends With 16 Sick

The Shigella, Vibrio, and E. coli outbreak that is linked to raw oysters harvested from Estero El Cardon estuary in Baja California Sur, Mexico, has ended after sickening 16 people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  Two people were hospitalized because they were so sick.

Shigella, Vibrio, E. coli Outbreak Linked to Raw Oysters Ends With 16 Sick

The case count by state is: Alaska (1), California (12), Illinois (1), New Hampshire (1), and Nevada (1). Illness onset dates ranged from December 16, 2018 through April 17, 2019. The patient age range was from 26 to 80 years.

State public health officials found more illnesses among people who also ate raw oysters from the same harvest area. The FDA investigated a subset of the illnesses investigated by the CDC. Those five patients were sickened with Shigella infections.

Laboratory testing on samples taken from patients found many different pathogens causing illness. Some people were sick with more than one pathogen. The case counts by pathogen are:

  • Four cases of Shigella flexneri infection
  • Two cases of Vibrio parahaemolyticus infection
  • One case of Vibrio parahaemolyticus and Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) non-O157 coinfection
  • One case of Vibrio parahaemolyticus and Shigella flexneri coinfection
  • One case of Shigella flexneri and Campylobacter lari coinfection
  • One case of Vibrio albensis infection
  • One case of norovirus genogroup 1 infection
  • One case of infection with Vibrio of unknown species
  • Four cases of illness without a pathogen identified

Epidemiologic and traceback evidence found that raw oysters harvested from Estero El Cardon in Baja California Sur, Mexico, were the likely source of this outbreak. One U.S. distributor of those oysters issued a voluntary recall on May 6, 2019. All raw oysters that were distributed from Estero El Cardon from the last week of April 2019 through the first week of May 2019 were recalled at the request of Mexico’s public health authorities.

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These pathogens produce similar symptoms that include diarrhea that may be bloody, stomach cramps and pain, nausea, vomiting, and a fever. Symptoms usually begin a few days after exposure and can last up to a week. Shigella can spread from one person to another.

The CDC and FDA recommend that consumers do not eat raw or undercooked shellfish. The shellfish will look, smell, and taste normal even though they may be contaminated with pathogens. Boil oysters in the shell until the shells open, then boil another 3-5 minutes. For shucked oysters, boil for at least 3 minutes, or bake at 450°F for 10 minutes. Discard any oysters that do not fully open after cooking.


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