June 15, 2024

Washington Vibrio Outbreak Linked to Oysters From Samish Bay

A Washington Vibrio parahaemolyticus outbreak has sickened multiple people, according to the Washington State Department of Health. The outbreak is linked to oysters harvested in Samish Bay. The notice posted in the Shellfish Safety Map alert page says that there are multiple confirmed Vibrio illnesses.

That bay is now closed to oyster harvesting. The closure period is for 21 days, but the closure may be extended if environmental test results of thermostable direct hemolysin (TDH) and TDH-related hemolysin (TRH) levels are in excess of 10 MPN/gram.

Washington Vibrio Outbreak Linked to Oysters From Samish Bay

The closure notice was posted on July 16, 2021. No one can harvest oysters in that Bay for the next 21 days, or when officials lift the closure. The number of cases “has already surpassed the highest number of cases ever recorded by the state for the month of July,” according to officials.

Officials in Washington state say that the recent heat wave is likely to blame for the increased rate of illnesses. People contract Vibrio infections when they eat raw or undercooked shellfish that are contaminated with this bacteria. This pathogen grows rapidly in warm water temperatures.

Director of the Office of Environmental Health and Safety, Todd Phillips, said in a statement, “Another effect of the recent heat wave is the perfect storm of conditions for Vibrio infections. It’s important that when enjoying shellfish, we follow simple steps to stay healthy.”

Follow safe shellfish cooking recommendations whenever you cook this type of food. Vibrio bacteria are killed when shellfish is cooked to 145°F and that temperature is held for 15 seconds. Most shellfish cooking instructions tell you to cook until the shells open, but the safe cooking temperature is only reached a few minutes later. Using a reliable food thermometer is the only way to tell if shellfish has been safely cooked.

When you harvest shellfish, only collect them from open and approved areas. Harvest as the tide goes out. And bring a cooler with ice with you and make sure that the shellfish is packed on ice or refrigerated as soon as possible.

Symptoms of vibriosis include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, headache, fever, and chills. People are usually sick for a few hours or a few days. Most people get sick within one day. Anyone with a weakened immune system or liver disease is at higher risk for these infections. If you have eaten oysters harvested in Samish Bay and have been ill with these symptoms, see your doctor. You may be part of this Washington vibrio outbreak.

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