July 31, 2006

Eat Pacific Northwest oysters with caution: FDA

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Consumers should avoid eating raw
oysters harvested from the Pacific Northwest, U.S. health
officials warned on Monday after reports of stomach illnesses
linked to bacterial contamination.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said a growing number
of people, mostly in Washington state, have reported getting
sick after eating oysters tainted with the Vibrio
parahaemolyticus bacterium.

More than 70 people in Washington have been infected,
according to the state's Department of Health. Some consumers
in New York have also reported falling ill from the oysters,
which are shipped nationwide, the FDA added.

The infection can cause diarrhea, cramps and nausea in
healthy people, but those who are older or have poor immune
systems are at risk for more serious problems such as a blood

Authorities in Washington state have recalled oysters
harvested in affected areas. The state typically receives 20
reported cases each year, officials have said.

The FDA, which called this year's growing number of cases
"unusual," urged consumers to fully cook all oysters before
eating them. People should not buy oysters that have already
been opened and should throw away any that do not open during
cooking, it added.