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UPDATE:  On May 11, 2011, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services re-opened Area 1642 in Apalachicola Bay, Fla. for the harvest of oysters, clams, and mussels.  Recent testing of oysters from the area did not detect Vibrio Cholorae contamination.  Oysters, clams and mussels harvested from the area on or after May 11 are not affected by the earlier recall and may be distributed for consumption.


For Immediate Release: May 10, 2011
Media Inquiries: Doug Karas: 301-796-2805; douglas.karas@fda.hhs.gov
Consumer Inquiries: 888-INFO-FDA

Consumers warned to avoid eating oysters from area 1642  in Apalachicola Bay, Florida
Warning follows bacterial illness outbreak

Fast Facts
• The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is advising consumers, restaurant operators, commercial shippers and processors of shellfish not to eat, serve, purchase, sell or ship oysters from Area 1642 in Apalachicola Bay, Fla. because the oysters may be contaminated with toxigenic Vibrio cholerae serogroup O75.

• Nine persons have been reported with illness. For eight, the illness was confirmed as caused by toxigenic Vibrio cholerae O75; laboratory confirmation is pending in the other person. No one was hospitalized or died.

• All ill persons reported consumption of raw or lightly steamed oysters.

• Traceback indicates that oysters harvested from Area 1642 in Apalachicola Bay, Fla., between March 21 and April 6, 2011, are associated with illness. 
 

• Those who have recently purchased oysters should check with the place of purchase and ask if they were harvested from the affected growing area.

What is the problem?
Raw oysters harvested from Area 1642 in Apalachicola Bay, Fla. between March 21 and April 6, 2011, have been linked to eight confirmed and one possible case of toxigenic Vibrio cholerae O75 infection. The ill persons ate raw or lightly cooked oysters harvested from that area. Ill persons reside in Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Indiana; all report consumption of oysters while in Florida.  There are several designated harvest areas within Apalachicola Bay, Fla, and each of these has a unique numerical identifier. Area 1642 is a zone that stretches from north to south in Apalachicola Bay just on the east side of the bridge that goes from Eastpoint, Fla., to St. George Island, Fla. The zone is approximately two miles wide from east to west. 

What are the symptoms of Vibrio illness?
Illness is typically characterized by nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. The symptoms begin from a few hours up to five days after consumption of raw or undercooked seafood, particularly shellfish, or after ingestion of surface waters.

Who is at risk?
Persons at risk are those who traveled to Florida and consumed oysters that were harvested from Area 1642 of Apalachicola Bay or who purchased oysters in a state to which these oysters or oyster product were distributed and ate them.

What do consumers need to do? 
Those who have recently purchased oysters should check with the place of purchase and ask if they were harvested from the affected growing area. If the oysters were definitely or possibly harvested from Area 1642 in Apalachicola Bay, Fla., and have not yet been consumed, they should not be eaten. If the oysters were already consumed and no one became ill, no action is needed. If you develop a diarrheal illness within a week after consuming raw or undercooked shellfish, see your healthcare provider and inform the provider about this exposure.

Those with weakened immune systems, including people affected by AIDS, chronic alcohol abuse, liver, stomach, or blood disorders, cancer, diabetes, or kidney disease should avoid eating raw oysters, regardless of where they are harvested.

What product forms are included in the recall?
This advisory, which comes from an outbreak of illness caused by toxigenic Vibrio cholerae O75, applies to live in-shell and shucked fresh or frozen oysters from the area.

Where is it distributed?
These oysters or oyster product were initially distributed in Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, and North Carolina. However, subsequent distribution to other states may have occurred.

What is being done about the problem?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is advising consumers, restaurant operators, commercial shippers and processors of shellfish not to eat, serve, purchase, sell or ship oysters harvested from Area 1642 in Apalachicola Bay, Florida because the oysters may be contaminated with toxigenic Vibrio cholerae O75. 

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Division of Aquaculture closed Area 1642 on April 29 and has asked commercial oyster harvesters and dealers who obtained oysters from this area to recall them.

The FDA is sampling oysters from Area 1642 in Apalachicola Bay as part of a reopening strategy.
 

Who should be contacted?
The FDA encourages consumers with questions about seafood safety to call 1-888-SAFEFOOD or to write to consumer@fda.gov.

For more information:

FDA Bad Bug Book: Vibrio cholerae serogroup Non-O1

CDC Cholera and other Vibrio illness sureveillance system
 

General information on Vibrio infections

Raw Oyster myths
 
The information in this press release reflects the FDA’s best efforts to communicate what it has learned from the state public health agencies involved in the investigation. The agency will update this page as more information becomes available.


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