Warning! Eating Oysters Could Make You Sick

Are you an oyster lover? For now, it’s best to avoid eating oysters from the San Antonio Bay area. Here’s why.

Oysters are a polarizing food. Some people love their taste and texture, while others despise them. But – no matter how much you love them you don’t want to become ill after eating them. This is a good reason to stop eating oysters if you live in the San Antonio Bay area of Texas. It seems that some people eating oysters from the area are experiencing symptoms of the norovirus – the same virus that has sickened so many people on cruise ships.

The FDA is advising that people who purchased oysters after November 16, 2009 from the San Antonio Bay region not eat them to avoid coming down with the norovirus. Norovirus can cause a variety of unpleasant symptoms including crampy abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, fever, chills, headache, and vomiting. People feel bad with this virus, but, fortunately, most recovery without complications. The biggest danger is dehydration which comes from the vomiting and diarrhea.

This isn’t the first time that norovirus infected oysters have caused health problems. One of the world’s renowned restaurants, the Fat Duck restaurant in England, experienced an unexpected encounter with the rotovirus. Five-hundred-and-twenty-nine customers became ill after eating oysters contaminated with rotovirus from sewage debris. This fiasco cost the restaurant half-a-million dollars as well as tarnished its reputation. Unfortunately, oysters are filter feeders that can draw in pollutants and infectious agents from their environment. One more reason not to eat raw oysters unless you know where they came from.

Not only should you not buy oysters from the San Antonio region, but avoid oysters served at restaurants unless you can verify that they didn’t come from San Antonio Bay. Always make sure that any oysters you eat are well cooked since eating raw oysters can cause other health problems. Eating raw ones increases the risk of infection with a bacteria called Vibrio vulnificus that can cause serious illness or even death – particularly in people with weakened immune systems. Fortunately, Vibrio bacteria can be destroyed by cooking oysters thoroughly before eating them. Before biting into your next batch of raw oysters, keep in mind that people become ill with this infection each year and some of them die.

Despite all of the bad publicity about eating raw oysters, oysters still have health benefits. They’re low in carbs and calories, high in zinc, and some believe they have aphrodisiac properties. They can be a healthy addition to the dinner table – just be a cautious consumer.

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  1. Good thing I don’t eat oyster…

  2. Several years ago I got OMG sick in Montreal from having eaten a large bowl of apparently undercooked black oysters. Being a ‘low taster’ I cannot easily discern any ‘off flavor’ of foods (which may not have mattered if these oysters were contaminated) and while I love the taste of food (ALL food, have never found anything that I absolutely hate) I have the unfortunate ability to be able to eat ‘rotted’ or ‘rancid’ and not really be able to tell it.

    I have not eaten oysters since… (this happened about 7 years ago maybe??)

  3. Not an oyster lover either. Well done!

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