Oysters in US showed high prevalence of Salmonella
Feb 18, 2005 - 4:38:38 PM

Oysters harvested from thirty-six bays around the United States showed high prevalence of Salmonella according to a report that appears in the February 2005 journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

Known carriers of viral and bacterial pathogens, seafood and shellfish accounted for 7.42% of food poisoning related deaths attributed to Salmonella between 1990 and 1998. Characterized by fever, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea, salmonellosis is responsible for approximately 500 deaths annually in the U.S. alone. Current guidelines require the shellfish industry to test for evidence of bacterial contamination, however previous studies indicate that Salmonella could be present in oysters appearing otherwise healthy, indicating the need for testing specific to Salmonella.

"There are no current requirements for U.S. states to test harvesting waters for the presence of human pathogens, such as Salmonella spp.," say the researchers.

In the study oysters were harvested from thirty-six U.S. bays, twelve from the West, East, and Gulf coasts during the summer of 2002 and four bays per coast in the winter of 2002, and tested for the presence of Salmonella. Results showed that 7.4% of the oysters tested were positive for Salmonella and they came from all three U.S. coasts.

"Potential pathogenic serotypes of Salmonella were isolated from oysters harvested on all three U.S. coasts," say the researchers. "The testing of the oyster meat specifically for Salmonella spp. on a regular basis throughout the year, in each bay open for harvesting, would appear to be the only mechanism to remedy this oversight."

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