The Food and Drug
Administration is advising consumers--particularly
those with compromised immune systems--to avoid
eating raw oysters harvested in the Pacific Northwest
as a result of increased reports of illnesses
associated with the naturally occurring bacteria Vibrio
parahaemolyticus in oysters harvested from the area.
Oysters harvested from this region have been reported
to cause gastrointestinal illness.
Until the threat
of V. parahaemolyticus has passed, consumers are
advised to thoroughly cook oysters harvested from that area
before eating them. They also should thoroughly cook
oysters if they are not certain of the oysters'
origin or if they wish to further reduce their risk of
infection from bacteria that may be found in raw oysters.
parahaemolyticus can cause mild gastrointestinal
disorders in healthy individuals, older persons and those
with weak immune systems, such as HIV patients, are at
greater risk for serious more illness, such as
septicemia--infection of the blood system. Persons
with weakened immune systems, including those affected by
AIDS; and persons with chronic alcohol abuse, liver,
stomach, or blood disorders; cancer; diabetes; or
kidney disease should avoid raw oyster consumption
altogether, regardless of where the oysters are harvested.