Federal health officials indicate that oysters imported from a certain harvesting region in Mexico may be linked to an outbreak of gastrointestinal illnesses, which have been reported in at least five states.
The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a raw oyster warning on May 10, following 16 reports of patients becoming infected with several different types of gastrointestinal illnesses after self-reporting consumption of imported raw oysters.
According to the statement, the illnesses have involved Shigella flexneri infection, Vibrio parahaemolyticus, Shiga toxin-producing E.coli (STEC) non-O157 infection, Shigella flexneri and Campylobacter lari coinfection, Vibrio albensis infection, norovirus genogroup, and in four illnesses the pathogen has not yet been identified.
CDC officials first received raw oyster gastrointestinal illness reports in December 2018, and began performing traceback investigations to determine the source of the outbreak. Investigators identified 15 people who reported eating raw oysters from different restaurants across several states before falling ill.
Samples of the bacteria collected from patients contained multiple pathogens, with several individuals found to be infected with more than one of the pathogens.
To date, officials believe the source of the contamination is related to raw oysters harvested from Estero El Cardon in Baja California Sur, Mexico. Oysters from the region are commonly distributed to restaurants reportedly patronized by individuals affected by the outbreak.
On May 6, the California Department of Public Health issued a recall of imported oysters from Estero El Cardon after receiving several reports of gastrointestinal illnesses. Just two days later, Estero El Cardon was temporarily shut down from all oyster harvesting and distribution by the FDA upon further investigation of the firm’s inventory and growing practices.
According to the CDC’s warning, the oysters were shipped were imported from Estero El Cardon and were shipped to retailers in various states across the United States.
The CDC and the FDA are aware of illnesses in Alaska (1), California (12), Illinois (1), New Hampshire (1) and Nevada (1). Officials are warning not all illnesses may have been reported yet due to distribution and life span.
Common symptoms of Vibrio, Shigella, norovirus, STEC, and Campylobacter all include bloody or watery diarrhea, stomach cramps or pain, nausea, vomiting, fever among other symptoms.
Consumers who experience any of the related symptoms are encouraged to contact their primary healthcare provider as soon as possible.
Consumers and retailers are being asked to stop consuming or serving any raw oysters imported from the Baja California Sur, Mexico region until further notice. If customers or retailers are unsure of the origin of the products, they should be discarded and have all surfaces and areas the products came in contact with disinfected thoroughly.