Consumers of raw oysters warned after steep increase in illness

Image: Raw oyster via Shutterstock

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control is warning anyone who enjoys slurping on a fresh raw oyster that they may be in for another kind of treat. Due to the ongoing warm temperatures, there has been a sharp increase in the number of oyster-related illnesses in the province.

In total, there have been 35 cases of vibrio parahaemolyticus infections counted in B.C. so far this summer and the majority of them have been linked to the consumption of raw oysters and oysters served in restaurants. The B.C. Centre for Disease Control also states some cases were caused after self-harvesting and buying at retail.

The bacteria is found in higher concentrations when the weather is warm, causing numbers to usually spike in the summer, however this summer’s high temperatures are causing unprecedented numbers to fall ill.

This foodborne illness most commonly displays itself as diarrhea and possibly nausea, vomiting, fever, headache and bloody stools. Those ill may feel symptoms for three days or as long as a week.

Cooking shellfish is the best way to keep the bacteria and its unpleasant symptoms away.

“People should always be aware of the health risks associated with eating raw or undercooked oysters,” says Marsha Taylor, Epidemiologist with the BCCDC. “The risk is especially high this summer, as we can see from the number of Vibrio infections reported during the last two months.”

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control also states anyone who becomes ill after eating shellfish should report it to their local public health office or doctor.

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Jill Slattery Jill Slattery was born and raised in Vancouver, where she also earned an Arts degree from UBC in English and Creative Writing. She is an avid TV-watcher and a shameless Taylor Swift fangirl. Jill is a Staff Writer at Vancity Buzz. Contact her at

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