The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Monday afternoon warned consumers not to eat oysters harvested from Washington state’s Hood Canal Area 4 between Aug. 30 and Sept. 19. The oysters are suspected of carrying vibrio parahaemolyticus bacteria, and are believed to be the cause of an outbreak of illness in as many as five consumers to date.
The oysters that are subject to the warning have been distributed to 23 states and several countries. The states are Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Utah and Washington. They also went out to China, Indonesia, Thailand and Taiwan.
Vibrio can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, starting as quickly as a few hours or as long as five days after ingestion of tainted, uncooked seafood. The FDA urges those who suffer from AIDS, chronic alcohol abuse, liver, stomach or blood disorders, cancer, diabetes or kidney disease, to avoid consuming all raw oysters, no matter where they are harvested, because such people are more susceptible to vibrio illness.
Meanwhile, Area 4 of Hood Canal has been closed to shellfish harvesting.
Vibrio parahaemolyticus belongs to the same family of bacteria as that which causes cholera, and although very rarely fatal, it can cause abdominal cramps and gastrointestinal distress for one to three days. The bacterium thrives in coastal salt waters, and under certain conditions of salinity and temperature, will infect seafood harvested from those areas.