Washington State Department of Health is urging recreational shellfish harvesters to take extra precautions and check, chill, and cook – the Three Cs – over the Labor Day weekend and into September.
The combination of hot weather, low tides, and little rain have contributed to more than 10 reports of vibriosis illnesses from people who ate raw or undercooked oysters they collected themselves. Vibrio parahaemolyticus bacteria is found naturally in the environment and thrives in warm temperatures.
“The shellfish industry follows special control measures during the summer months to keep people who choose to eat raw oysters from getting sick. For those who enjoy collecting and consuming their own shellfish, it’s important that they follow a few simple measures to stay healthy,” said Rick Porso, director of the Office of Environmental Health and Safety.
Before heading to the beach, people who gather their own shellfish should check the DOH Shellfish Safety Map to determine if any areas are closed.
Shellfish gathered from open and approved areas should be harvested as the tide goes out, chilled as soon as possible, and cooked at 145 F for 15 seconds to destroy Vibrio bacteria.
Vibriosis symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, headache, fever, and chills. The illness is usually mild or moderate and runs its course in two to three days