Oysters Recalled in 23 States Over Bacteria Threat

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) just issued a warning to consumers not to eat raw oysters harvested from Washington State’s Hood Canal Area 4. This oyster recall encompasses 23 states and four foreign countries, according to shipping and other records provided by Washington State.

The illness involved is caused by the Vibrio parahaemolyticus bacteria and involves oysters harvested from August 30 to September 19. To date, three confirmed and two potential illnesses have been reported; all who fell ill reported eating raw oysters. To date, there have been no reports of hospitalizations or deaths resulting from consumption of the contaminated oysters.

In response to the contamination and outbreak, the Washington State Department of Health closed the growing area linked to the illnesses. Also, commercial oyster harvesters and dealers who obtained oysters from this growing area have initiated a recall and have notified their commercial customers located in the states affected by the recall. Washington State authorities have also advised the states involved.

Records obtained by Washington State health officials reveal that potentially contaminated raw oysters harvested from Hood Canal Area 4 were distributed to 23 states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Utah, and Washington, as well as to the countries of China, Indonesia, Taiwan, and Thailand.

People who recently purchased oysters should check with the place of purchase—including restaurants and other facilities—to determine if the oysters were harvested from the affected growing area.

Vibrio illness is typically characterized by nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, which can manifest from within a few hours to up to five days after consumption of raw or undercooked seafood, particularly shellfish, or after ingestion of surface waters.

People who traveled to Washington State and consumed oysters that were harvested from Hood Canal Area 4, or those individuals who purchased and consumed oysters in a state to where these oysters were distributed, are at risk.

Also, people with weakened immune systems, including people affected by AIDS; chronic alcohol abuse; liver, stomach, or blood disorders; cancer; diabetes; or kidney disease can be more susceptible to vibrio illness and should always avoid eating raw oysters, regardless of from where they are harvested.

The FDA encourages consumers with questions about seafood safety to the agency, toll-free, at 1.888.SAFEFOOD, or email the FDA at consumer@fda.gov.

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