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Oyster lovers beware in hot weather

The state Department of Health is warning oyster lovers that the warm air and water this time of year can lead to the growth of bacteria. People who love to eat raw oysters could get really sick. (AP Photo)

The heat might be making you hot and sticky, and the state Department of Health wants to make sure you don't add "woozy" to the list.

It's warning oyster lovers that the warm air and water this time of year can lead to the growth of bacteria. People who love to eat raw oysters could get really sick.

"We have great shellfish in Washington and we want people to enjoy them - safely," said Jerrod Davis, director of the agency's Office of Shellfish and Water Protection.

There are a few precautions to take to make sure you don't fall ill.

Know shellfish harvesting conditions before you dig. Call 1-800-562-5632 or check out this website.

Harvest shellfish soon after the tide recedes rather than waiting until after they've been exposed to the air for a long time.

Refrigerate or put shellfish on ice immediately after harvesting. Keep them cold until you're ready to eat.

The Department of Health says cooking shellfish just until the shells open is not enough to kill vibrio bacteria. They should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees for at least 15 seconds.

"Generally, keep cooking three to five minutes after the shells open when boiling, and four to nine minutes when steaming shellfish."

Symptoms of vibriosis, the illness caused by vibrio bacteria, include diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, headache, fever, and chills. And they normally last from two to seven days.

About the Author


Stephanie joined the MyNorthwest.com team in February 2008. She has built the site into a two-time National Edward R. Murrow Award winner (Best Radio Website 2010, 2012).

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