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Important Health Issue From Be Oyster Aware
Date:10/15/2008


NEW ORLEANS, Oct. 15 /PRNewswire/ --

To The Editor:

Recent deaths of consumers in Florida and Texas caused by bacterial infections in shellfish should remind people with certain pre-existing conditions of health risks associated with consuming raw shellfish, particularly during warm weather when waters in the Gulf of Mexico are especially susceptible to the growth of Vibrio vulnificus bacteria.

Vibrio vulnificus is a naturally occurring bacteria completely unrelated to pollution. Although infection with Vibrio vulnificus occurs primarily between the months of March and November (rather than cooler winter months), infections have been reported throughout the year, resulting in deaths and illnesses.

Certain health conditions can compromise the immune system and make some consumers especially at-risk. Most commonly, these pre-existing conditions include alcoholism, liver disease, diabetes, cancer, stomach disorders, iron overload disease or any other illnesses that can weaken the immune system.

A coalition of public and private sector health agencies, medical professionals, universities, and industry partners are engaged in an on-going non-profit health education campaign called Be Oyster Aware (http://www.beoysteraware.com), which was created to help educate medical professionals and their at-risk patients and to provide healthy and safe shellfish alternatives. Organizers stress that for healthy people, raw Gulf Coast oysters present no significant serious health risks from infection with Vibrio vulnificus and are a great source of zinc and iron.

Recommendations for people who may be at-risk include the following:

-- Consult our website for more complete and important information at http://www.beoysteraware.com.

-- Avoid raw shellfish or other forms of raw protein at all costs. You can eliminate your risk by eating oysters that are fully cooked.

-- Encourage your family members to fully understand the risks of infection with this bacteria.

-- Contact your health professional about potential risks before consuming raw shellfish.

Sincerely,

Fred A. Lopez M.D

Educational Specialist, Be Oyster Aware Campaign

504/524-3342


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SOURCE Be Oyster Aware Campaign
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