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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Food

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Vibrio Vulnificus Health Education Kit - Press Release

March 2004; updated October 2009

Press Release - Educational Campaign Warning the Hispanic Community About the Risks of Eating Raw Oysters

This document also available in Spanish (Español)

[ YOUR LETTERHEAD ]

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:

[ Name ]
[ Organization ]
[ Phone Number ]
[ Email ]

THE [ NAME OF YOUR AGENCY ] LAUNCHES EDUCATIONAL CAMPAIGN WARNING THE HISPANIC COMMUNITY ABOUT RISKS OF EATING RAW OYSTERS

[ City Name, Date ] - The [ Name of Your Agency ] today announced the launch of a public health campaign targeted to the Hispanic community.

The campaign is designed to raise awareness about the risks of eating raw oysters for individuals with liver disease and certain other medical conditions that make them more susceptible to infection from the bacterium, Vibrio vulnificus. The [ Name of Your Agency ] is advising these "high risk" individuals to only eat cooked oysters, because cooking destroys the bacterium.

Many people eat raw oysters during parties and celebrations, while they are drinking alcohol. Frequently, these individuals don't understand that eating raw oysters can be dangerous to people with liver disease or weakened immune systems.

"Drinking two to three alcoholic drinks each day can cause liver disease. Liver function may be impaired years before an individual begins to experience symptoms," explained [ Name of Your Expert, Title ]. "These people may be at high risk for infection from Vibrio vulnificus and they may not even know it," [ Name of Expert ] added.

"You can't tell if an oyster is contaminated by Vibrio vulnificus by looking at it or by smelling it," [ Name of Your Expert ] said. "Because heat kills the bacteria, the only way you can be sure you are not eating a contaminated oyster is to eat it cooked," [ he/she ] added.

To protect themselves from serious illness or death, the FDA is urging anyone whose immune system may be weakened to avoid raw oysters and to cook oysters thoroughly when dining at home, or order them from restaurants cooked when eating out.

Of all diseases, infection with Vibrio vulnificus is one of the most severe. When healthy individuals are affected, mild stomach or intestinal symptoms such as diarrhea or pain may occur. However, 50 percent of the high-risk individuals who are infected with Vibrio vulnificus die.

Liver disease, which can be caused by the heavy drinking of alcoholic beverages over a period of time; diabetes, cancer, iron overload disease, or any illness or medical treatment that weakens the body's immune system can put individuals at high risk for Vibrio vulnificus infection.

[ Name of Your Agency's ]outreach will include a partnership with community-based health organizations and public service announcements. [NOTE: If your agency will be printing and distributing copies of the fotonovela include the following sentence. If not, omit following sentence]. The [ Name of Your Agency ] will provide health information in the form of a fotonovela (illustrated storybook that shows what may happen if people with weakened immune systems eat raw oysters contaminated with Vibrio vulnificus) and by distributing public service announcements.

More information about the risks associated with eating raw oysters is available from [ insert information about your agency ].