Cook Oysters and Clams with Care
(NOTE: The information on this page is a guideline only and should not be used as a basis for a medical diagnosis. Consult a doctor when necessary.
Some people relish eating raw oysters, clams and other molluscan shellfish. Others delight in swimming or wading in the ocean. Most run little risk of contracting a serious illness from those activities. But not all can enjoy consuming raw shellfish or playing in the ocean without concern. Why not?
Because a bacteria called vibrio vulnificus, found in some parts of the ocean and in some shellfish, can cause serious illness or even death in persons with any kind of health problem, especially those listed below:
Is there any easy way to tell which shellfish harbor the bacteria?
Unfortunately, no. Because vibrio vulnificus occurs naturally in warm coastal waters, eating oysters or clams harvested from approved waters does not reduce the risk of infection. Moreover, in appearance, taste and odor, infected shellfish cannot be distinguished from non-infected shellfish.
When should vibrio vulnificus infection be suspected?
Symptoms usually begin within 24-48 hours and may include the following:
Anyone who has any of these symptoms after eating raw oysters or clams should seek medical attention immediately. Since death in people at risk can occur within two days of infection, early, aggressive antibiotic treatment is the most effective therapy.
How can the risk of infection from vibrio vulnificus be reduced?
For more information, contact the following:
Oysters and Clams: Cooking Tips to Reduce Infection by Vibrio Vulnificus
In the shell: