Dozens of reports of the unpleasant illness have been recorded since June.
If you're headed to Seattle, you've likely got two things on your must-try list: coffee and oysters. (Starbucks is headquartered there, after all, and the city's location near Samish Bay and Mid Hood Canal make it a mecca for fresh oyster lovers.) But while you can safely sip on coffee across Seattle, you will want to be more cautious before you slurp down oysters at any ol' location. Reports show 25 people who have eaten raw oysters in the Seattle-King County area since June have contracted vibriosis, a bacterial infection that comes with some pretty unpleasant stomach symptoms.
According to the Public Health department of Seattle-King County, 25 people have abdominal cramping, vomiting and watery, uh, movements—common symptoms of vibriosis—since June, a huge spike in the number of vibriosis cases the area might experience in a similar time period. In fact, the department says Seattle-King County has a five-year average of just 30 cases a year; in 2015, for example, there were only 32 laboratory-confirmed cases of vibriosis in the state. And the increase has officials warning consumers about the risks of consuming raw oysters from area eateries.
If you've eaten raw oysters in the Seattle area in recent weeks and have felt sick, you should report the illness to your doctor. And if you plan to eat oysters in the coming weeks in the Seattle area, take note of these tips from the public health department.
- Opt for cooked oysters and other seafood. You'll (almost) always reduce your risk of contracting any kind of bacterial infection when eating cooked (over raw) seafood.
- Wash your hands after eating raw oysters and other raw shellfish. (This is a good rule to follow any time you eat, too.)
- If you've got cuts, scrapes, or other open wounds on your hands, take extra care to wash those areas after handling raw oysters or seafood juices to prevent infection.
As a reminder, vibriosis symptoms are no fun. In addition to making your stomach very sick, you could also experience headaches and fever, and symptoms can last for up to seven days. So when it comes to eating oysters in the Seattle area right now, it's better to be safe than sorry.