By NewsDesk  @infectiousdiseasenews

In New Zealand, officials are encouraging the public to ensure they cook raw mussels thoroughly after an increase in cases of food poisoning associated with commercially grown mussels from the Coromandel area.

Image/mp1746 via pixabay

New Zealand Food Safety director of food regulation Paul Dansted said people got sick as the mussels were eaten raw or they did not thoroughly cook them.

“Cooking kills the marine microorganism Vibrio parahaemolyticus, which occurs naturally throughout the world. Not all strains of this microorganism cause illness in humans.

“Generally people who are sick recover without hospital treatment however, in severe cases, hospitalization is required. The symptoms are predominantly stomach cramps and watery diarrhea and sometimes nausea, vomiting, and fever.”

If you have eaten raw mussels and feel unwell, contact your doctor immediately.

“Testing is being done to confirm the type of Vibrio parahaemolyticus that has caused this illness. New Zealand Food Safety has an ongoing survey program to test mussels and growing waters to help us understand why this occurred.

“Until we have more information, New Zealand Food Safety is reminding consumers to take care when handling, preparing and consuming mussels. Our advice to consumers who are pregnant or have low immunity is to avoid eating raw shellfish,” says Paul Dansted.

General advice for consumers includes:

  • Don’t eat raw or undercooked mussels or other shellfish. Cook them thoroughly before eating.
  • Always wash your hands with soap and water after handling raw shellfish.
  • Avoid contaminating cooked shellfish with raw shellfish and its juices.

Vibrio parahaemolyticus is a bacterium in the same family as those that cause cholera. It lives in brackish saltwater and causes gastrointestinal illness in humans.

V. parahaemolyticus causes watery diarrhea often with abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting, fever and chills. Usually these symptoms occur within 24 hours of ingestion. Illness is usually self-limited and lasts 3 days. Severe disease is rare and occurs more commonly in persons with weakened immune systems.