(Washington, DC) Theodore J. Gordon, senior deputy director for public health assurance, DC Department of Health (DOH), reports that the DOH Public Health Laboratory specialists have analyzed oyster samples from over 20 locations throughout the city. The laboratory results for all of the samples tested positive for bacterium including vibrio parahaemolyticus, vibrio vulnificus, and vibrio alginolyticus.
"Anyone consuming raw shellfish is at an inherent risk for food-borne disease," said Mr. Gordon. "It is advised that individuals with certain chronic diseases or compromised immune systems should avoid consumption of any raw seafood. The organism is destroyed when food is thoroughly cooked. If unsure about your risk, consult a physician."
Retailers are advised to inform customers and consumers of this latest information.
The Department of Health recommends the following, particularly for immunocompromised patients, including those with underlying liver disease:
For more information call the Department of Health at (202) 442-5400 (8:15 am 5:00 pm) or (202) 727-6161 (after 5:00 pm).
- Do not eat raw oysters or other raw shellfish.
- Cook shellfish (oysters, clams, mussels) thoroughly.
- For shellfish in the shell, either a) boil until the shells open and continue boiling for 5 more minutes, or b) steam until the shells open and then continue cooking for 9 more minutes. Do not eat those shellfish that do not open during cooking. Boil shucked oysters at least 3 minutes, or fry them in oil at least 10 minutes at 375°F.
- Avoid cross-contamination of cooked seafood and other foods with raw seafood and juices from raw seafood.
- Eat shellfish promptly after cooking and refrigerate leftovers.
- Avoid exposure of open wounds or broken skin to warm salt or brackish water, or to raw shellfish harvested from such waters.
- Wear protective clothing (e.g., gloves) when handling raw shellfish.