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Vibrio Bacteria Rise in Brackish Waters Can Cause Illness

The Maryland Departments of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) and of the Environment (MDE) are reminding consumers of the potential risk of eating uncooked oysters, clams, mussels and other shellfish during the warmer months of the year. The yearly increase in Vibrio bacteria as the water temperature warms, is found naturally in coastal waters such as the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. The bacteria can also pose a threat of infection to persons with open cuts, scrapes, burns or sores who are exposed to coastal waters.

“We’ve seen recent infections associated with swimming or working in brackish bay waters and Maryland’s water temperatures have been higher than normal this summer,” says Frances Phillips, DHMH Deputy Secretary of Public Health Services. “While we want everyone to enjoy fresh Maryland seafood this summer, we also want people to be aware of how to protect themselves from illness and infection.”

Shellfish, which are filter-feeding organisms, are bivalve mollusks such as clams, oysters, and mussels. The term shellfish does not include crabs, lobsters, or shrimp.

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