Health Alert

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A recent sporadic bacterial outbreak among local folks sickened after eating contaminated oysters has prompted the state Department of Health to advise the public to check closure notices for marinas and recreational beaches, at the department’s biotoxin Web site: www.doh.wa.gov/ehp/sf/biotoxin.htm.

The department says several people across the state have reported illnesses. The bacteria, Vibrio parahaemolyticus, are found mainly in oysters but can infect other shellfish.

The Department of Health has been testing samples for the bacteria, which have shown sporadic bacterial contamination in shellfish throughout South Puget Sound, Hood Canal, and Willapa Bay in Pacific County.

Thorough cooking will kill the bacteria, leaving shellfish safe to eat, the department said. The risk comes from eating raw shellfish, especially oysters. That includes shellfish purchased at a supermarket.

The risk of infection by Vibrio parahaemolyticus is increased during warm-weather months. But the department said shellfish currently on the market should be safe to eat if kept refrigerated or iced after purchase, then thoroughly cooked.

Besides the Web site, the department also has a biotoxin hotline: 800-562-5632.

(Source: The Seattle Times)

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