By NewsDesk  @bactiman63

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) announced investigating  an outbreak of Vibrio parahaemolyticus infections occurring in four provinces.

Public domain image/Daderot

Based on the investigation findings to date, exposure to shellfish has been identified as a likely source of the outbreak. Many individuals who became sick reported eating shellfish, mainly raw oysters, harvested from eastern coastal waters, before their illnesses occurred.

As of October 14, 2020, there are 21 confirmed cases of Vibrio parahaemolyticus illness in the following provinces: Saskatchewan (1), Quebec (7), New Brunswick (10), and Prince Edward Island (3). Individuals became sick between early July and mid-September 2020. One individual has been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.

The following tips may help reduce your risk of getting sick from Vibrio, but they may not fully eliminate the risk of illness.

  • Avoid eating raw or undercooked shellfish.
  • Get your shellfish products from a licensed establishment or harvest them from a fishing area which is open under the Canadian Shellfish Sanitation Program (CSSP), Fisheries and Ocean Canada.
  • Store and transport shellfish at 4ºC (39ºF) in the refrigerator or on ice from the time purchased until cooking or eating.
  • Shellfish must be cooked to a safe internal temperature of 74ºC (165ºF) to kill bacteria like Vibrio.
  • Follow proper safe food handling practises when preparing and cooking shellfish:
    • Wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and warm water before and after handling any shellfish.
    • Always clean and proper sanitize any cutting boards, counters, kitchen surfaces, knives and other utensils used to prepare raw shellfish.
    • Use only drinking-quality water for rinsing shellfish.
    • Discard any shellfish that do not open when cooked.
    • Eat shellfish right away after cooking and refrigerate leftovers.
    • Always keep raw and cooked shellfish separate.
    • Wear protective clothing (like gloves) when handling raw shellfish.
    • Avoid exposing open wounds or broken skin to warm salt or brackish water, or to raw shellfish.
  • Avoid taking antacids prior to eating oysters, or other seafood, as reduced stomach acid may favour the survival and growth of Vibrio.
  • If you have been diagnosed with a Vibrio infection or any other gastrointestinal illness, do not cook food for other people.
  • Contact your local public health authority to report any food safety concerns at restaurants, grocery stores, or if you suspect food poisoning from a restaurant or other food establishments.