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29-07-2012 | Article

Oyster Bay oysters are off the menu, FDA warns

MedWire News: The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning consumers not to eat oysters or other shellfish harvested from the ironically named Oyster Bay Harbor in New York's Nassau County, following reports of illnesses caused by Vibrio parahaemolyticus bacteria in several states.

Ingestion of infected raw or undercooked clams and oysters can result in nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, with symptoms beginning anywhere from a few hours to up to 5 days following consumption, an FDA news release says.

The affected shellfish were harvested on or after June 1, 2012, and were distributed in several states, including Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and possibly others.

New York's Department of Environmental Conservation closed the shellfish beds on July 13.

The FDA is also advising any business involved in handling, selling, processing, cooking or serving shellfish to check the identity tags on all shellfish containers, and to dispose of any from the affected area marked June 1 or later.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), V. parahaemolyticus bacteria can be isolated from stool, blood, or wound cultures.

"For isolation from stool, use of a selective medium that has thiosulfate, citrate, bile salts, and sucrose (TCBS agar) is recommended. If there is clinical suspicion for infection with this organism, the microbiology laboratory should be notified so that they will perform cultures using this medium. A physician should suspect V. parahaemolyticus infection if a patient has watery diarrhea and has eaten raw or undercooked seafood, especially oysters, or when a wound infection occurs after exposure to seawater," the CDC states.

Infections are usually self-limiting and do not require treatment in most cases, and there is no evidence supporting the use of antibiotics to decrease either the length or severity of V. parahaemolyticus-induced illness.

"In severe or prolonged illnesses, antibiotics such as tetracycline or ciprofloxicin can be used. The choice of antibiotics should be based on antimicrobial susceptibilities of the organism," the CDC further states.

FDA statement

CDC statement

By Neil Osterweil, MedWire Reporter