Bacterial outbreak roils Mass. oyster industry

Sep 15, 2013 by Jay Lindsay
Jason Costa, an employee of Merry's Oysters, broadcasts oyster seed from a boat into Duxbury Bay in Duxbury, Mass., Thursday, Sept. 12, 2013. Oyster harvesting on Massachusetts' South Shore has been closed since Aug. 30, 2013 due to bacterial contamination from the Vibrio parahaemolyticus bacteria and may remain closed until mid-October. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)

The recent closures of Massachusetts oyster beds due to bacterial contamination have caused angst in the state's small but growing oyster industry.

The culprit is the Vibrio parahaemolyticus (VIB'-ree-oh peh-ruh-hee-moh-LIT'-ih-kus) , which has occurred in Massachusetts waters since the 1960s. Why it's become a problem now, though, is a mystery.

Average monthly daytime in the region rarely approach the 81 degrees believed to be the threshold that triggers dangerous Vibrio growth.

It has been only six years since Massachusetts was required to federally report Vibrio illnesses, so testing to predict and explain the problem is not fully developed.

Oyster cultivator Don Merry pours oyster seed onto the bow of his boat on Duxbury Bay in Duxbury, Mass., Monday, Sept. 12, 2013. Oyster harvesting on Massachusetts' South Shore has been closed since Aug. 30, 2013 due to bacterial contamination from the Vibrio parahaemolyticus bacteria and may remain closed until mid-October. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)

The state's first closures were announced Aug. 30 for oyster beds along the shore south of Boston. The second closure, announced Monday, shut down oyster beds in Katama Bay at Martha's Vineyard.

Explore further: Researchers provide guide to household water conservation

4 /5 (2 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

A salty way to safer shellfish

Mar 31, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- A spritz of lemon and a dash of hot sauce make oysters taste great -- but a bath of salt water might make them more safe to eat. A new report finds that exposing oysters raised in low-salinity ...

Cholera oyster outbreak sickens 11 in US

May 10, 2011

As many as 11 people have reported getting sick from eating raw oysters contaminated with cholera bacteria in northern Florida, officials said on Tuesday.

Recommended for you

Climate: Meat turns up the heat

20 hours ago

Eating meat contributes to climate change, due to greenhouse gasses emitted by livestock. New research finds that livestock emissions are on the rise and that beef cattle are responsible for far more greenhouse gas emissions ...

User comments : 0