September 9, 2011
You might want to have your oysters baked, broiled, pan or deep fried for the time being. The Monterey Health Department is advising the public to avoid eating raw or undercooked oysters due to a rash of recent illnesses.
The bacterium Vibrio parahaemolyticus is thought to be the culprit in the cases, as it is most abundant during summer months. Symptoms include abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Though the illness is not considered deadly, it can become life-threatening for those with existing conditions including liver disease, diabetes and weakened immune systems.
Unlike other bacteria that arises when sewage or runoff is high, Vibrio is a naturally occurring organism that proliferates when water temperatures are favorable. The Monterey County Health Department advises consumers to always discard oysters with opened shells and to cook shellfish thoroughly to avoid illness.
Image courtesy of the Lewis Lab at Northeastern University. Image created by Anthony D'Onofrio, William H. Fowle, Eric J. Stewart and Kim Lewis.