Ten cases of illness potentially related to eating raw oysters have been reported in Edmonton. With this in mind, Alberta Health Services has issued a statement reminding all Albertans of the risks associated with consumption of raw shellfish.
To reduce risk of illness, AHS advises Albertans to:
- Eat only properly cooked shellfish. Cooking will decrease the risk of illness and it is recommended to avoid eating any raw or undercooked shellfish.
- Specific to oysters, cook to an internal temperature of 90 C for 90 seconds.
- Discard any shellfish that do not open when cooked.
- Eat shellfish right away after cooking and promptly refrigerate leftovers.
- Keep raw and cooked shellfish separate.
- Keep purchased shellfish cold. Refrigerate immediately after purchase and keep at temperatures below 4 C.
- Wear protective clothing (such as gloves) and wash your hands both before handling any food and frequently while handling raw shellfish.
- Sanitize cutting boards, counters, knives and other utensils after preparing raw foods.
The list of symptoms you can get from eating raw seafood is every bit as unpleasant as you’d imagine. Watery diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, fever, headache and bloody stools to name a few. Although anyone who eats raw shellfish is at risk of illness, people with weakened immune systems, young children, pregnant women and older adults are at increased risk for developing complications if they get sick.
AHS advises anyone who develops these symptoms within 10 to 50 hours of eating raw shellfish to contact Health Link at 811 to report the illness. As with most gastrointestinal illnesses, symptoms typically last for one day to a week and usually do not require any treatment; however, any Albertan whose symptoms persist or become more severe should visit a doctor.