Bacterial outbreak roils Mass. oyster industry

September 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: Assay developed to rapidly detect disease that hurt oyster industry

Related Stories

A salty way to safer shellfish

March 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 water to a ...

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.

Study suggests alternative treatment for bacteria in oysters

March 21, 2011

A joint study by local oyster growers and researchers at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science shows that moving farmed oysters into saltier waters just prior to harvest nearly eliminates the presence of a bacterium that ...

New research study to shed light on emerging seaborne pathogen

January 21, 2009

A new research study at the University of Delaware seeks to determine why Vibrio parahaemolyticus, a microorganism that lives in seawater and is related to the bacterium that causes cholera, is expanding its range and virulence.

Recommended for you

A damming trend

December 14, 2018

Hundreds of dams are being proposed for Mekong River basin in Southeast Asia. The negative social and environmental consequences—affecting everything from food security to the environment—greatly outweigh the positive ...

Data from Kilauea suggests the eruption was unprecedented

December 14, 2018

A very large team of researchers from multiple institutions in the U.S. has concluded that the Kilauea volcanic eruption that occurred over this past summer represented an unprecedented volcanic event. In their paper published ...

The long dry: global water supplies are shrinking

December 13, 2018

A global study has found a paradox: our water supplies are shrinking at the same time as climate change is generating more intense rain. And the culprit is the drying of soils, say researchers, pointing to a world where drought-like ...

Death near the shoreline, not life on land

December 13, 2018

Our understanding of when the very first animals started living on land is helped by identifying trace fossils—the tracks and trails left by ancient animals—in sedimentary rocks that were deposited on the continents.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.