The West Coast heatwave is a contributing factor in a Vibrio outbreak in Washington State linked to raw oysters and undercooked shellfish, according to state officials. Vibrio is a bacteria that grows well in warm, coastal waters and the unusually high air temperatures have warmed up the water of coastal Washington. Some shellfish beaches have been closed.
A record number of Vibrio illnesses have already been reported for the month of July, according to the state health department. These illnesses are associated with the consumption of raw or undercooked oysters.
Raw oysters are the most common source of Vibrio infections, but any raw or undercooked seafood can be a source. Clams, mussels, shrimp, lobster, crab, crayfish, conch, scallops, and even finfish have been linked to Vibrio illnesses.
About 80 percent of confirmed cases Vibrio cases are reported between May and October. Eating cooked shellfish is the best way to avoid illness. Vibrio can be destroyed by cooking shellfish to an internal temperature of 145° F for 15 seconds. Some retailers offer pasteurized oysters.
About 1,000 confirmed cases of Vibrio are reported in the U.S. each year. But because Vibrio isn’t easily identified with routine testing, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates the actual number of illnesses is closer to 80,000 annually.
Symptoms of a Vibrio infection usually develop within one to three days of consuming the contaminated food and last about three days. They include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, headache, fever, and chills. People with liver disease, cancer, or other conditions that compromise the immune system are at high risk of developing more serious infections.
Pritzker Hageman attorneys have represented people sickened by Vibrio and families who have suffered the wrongful death of a loved one. To request a free consultation with our Vibrio Team, please call 1-888-377-8900, send a text to 612-261-0856, or complete the form below. There is no obligation and we don’t get paid unless we win.