PROVIDENCE – The Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH) urges all Rhode Islanders who fish in local waters to be sure they are following proper procedures for safe handling of shellfish.
This recommendation is made after HEALTH received a report of an individual who became ill due to Vibrio parahaemolyticus after consuming shellfish caught at Sand Hill Cove in the Point Judith Pond area.
"We encourage Rhode Islanders who like shellfish to continue to enjoy eating them," said Michael Fine, M.D., director of HEALTH. "It's important that those who catch their own shellfish take the necessary steps to protect themselves from illness."
To safely enjoy shellfish, HEALTH makes the following recommendations:
- Do not eat raw oysters, clams, mussels, or shellfish. - Bring a cooler and ice packs with you while fishing so that all shellfish can be cooled immediately. - Cook all shellfish thoroughly. For shellfish in a hard shell (clams, oysters, mussels), boil for five minutes after the shells open or steam for 9 minutes after the shells open. Do not eat clams, oysters, or mussels that do not open during cooking. Boil shucked oysters for at least 3 minutes or fry in oil that is 375 degrees for 3 minutes. - Eat shellfish promptly after cooking and refrigerate leftovers. - Clean surfaces, cutting boards, and utensils after they have come in contact with raw shellfish or shellfish juices. - Harvest shellfish from approved areas only and refrigerate shellfish immediately.
Vibrio parahaemolyticus symptoms can include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, headache, fever, and chills. The illness is usually mild or moderate, although some cases may require hospitalization. Symptoms usually last two or three days. Children, the elderly, and anyone with a weakened immune system can develop more serious symptoms. Anyone who has eaten raw or improperly cooked shellfish and has these symptoms should contact their healthcare provider for diagnosis and treatment.