Food poisoning may not be as frightening when you think of the chances one has of dying from food poisoning. But nonetheless, food poisoning should not be taken for granted because it is a disease that can be prevented.
There are a lot of things that can cause food poisoning. One of the common foods that cause this illness is oysters. Oysters are a type of shellfish. These bivalves are enjoyed by many people. And usually, people eat these raw. But sadly, oysters are also among common foods that cause food-borne illnesses. So, in order to keep you and your family from getting sick, here are some tips on how to prevent food poisoning from oysters.
Before we look at how we can prevent food poisoning due to oysters, let us first take a look at what food poisoning is. Food poisoning is any food-borne illness. There are quite a number of things that can cause food poisoning. Various pathogens (i.e. bacteria, fungi, viruses) and toxic substances can lead to food poisoning if they contaminate the food and drinks you consume.
Because there are many different causes of food poisoning, there are also various symptoms of the disease. But the most common symptoms among the different types and cases of food poisoning are diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and abdominal cramps. In some situations, the symptoms involved may appear to be more severe compared to others. And in some cases, other symptoms are also involved (i.e. fever, bloody stools, loss of appetite, weakness).
If left untreated, food poisoning can lead to complications. Dehydration is the most infamous of them all. It is the problem associated with food poisoning because high amounts of water are lost through diarrhea and vomiting. If the water lost is not replenished, it would lead to dehydration and dehydration can be very fatal.
Food poisoning from oysters
There are many different types of food poisoning associated with oysters. Even though the cause of food poisoning is the oysters, there are many different pathogens that could contaminate the oysters. And these various pathogens lead to different types of food poisoning.
One of the common pathogen that can contaminate oysters is Vibrio parahaemolyticus. Vibrio parahaemolyticus is a type of bacteria that can lead to an infection. The symptoms are similar to common cases of food poisoning, diarrhea, cramps, and vomiting. Headache and fever can also be observed. The symptoms appear 12 to 24 hours after consuming the contaminated oyster and they last for 3 days.
Another type of bacteria that may be lurking in oysters is Vibrio vulnificus. These bacteria live in warm seawater and are frequently found in oysters and other types of shellfish. They thrive especially during the warm summer months. Vibrio vulnificus can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. And people with weaker immune systems can have infection of the bloodstream, which can cause life-threatening illnesses. Fever, chills, blistering skin wounds, and low blood pressure are also signs of Vibrio vulnificus infection.
Vibrio cholerae is also a type of bacteria that contaminate bivalves, like oysters. V. cholerae causes nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, headache, and dizziness.
Viruses may also contaminate oysters. Hepatitis A causes a viral infection with symptoms of fever, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, nausea, loss of appetite, fatigue, jaundice, and yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes. The symptoms appear 2 to 6 weeks after the infection and may last for 6 to 12 months.
Another virus that contaminates oysters is the Norwalk Virus. This virus causes a viral infection that leads to nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea. A low-grade fever, along with general lethargy, weakness, headache, and muscle pains, may also occur. The symptoms are observed 1 to 2 days after the virus enters the system and they last for several days.
Preventing food poisoning from oysters
Eating oysters now seem to be a pretty scary thing. There are many bacteria and viruses that can contaminate oysters. And the chances of getting food poisoning from oysters are high because of this. The best way to prevent food poisoning from oysters would be to avoid eating these shellfish. If you don’t eat oysters, then you don’t have to worry about getting infected.
If you still want to eat oysters, then you must cook them properly. The heat from cooking kills the bacteria and other pathogens that may have contaminated the oysters. Cooking is a good means of preventing food poisoning from oysters. And when eating cooked oysters, be sure to eat only those that open after cooking. If the shell remains closed, then you should throw it away.
When preparing your oysters, or any meal for that matter, keep the raw oysters away from the cooked ones to prevent cross-contamination. Do not prepare them in the same place and use different utensils and cutting boards when preparing the ingredients. Always wash your hands before and after preparing your meal and after handling raw oysters. And to avoid spreading a disease, if you are infected, do not prepare the meal, especially other people’s food. An infected handler may contaminate the food and pass on the disease to other people.
When buying oysters, know where they come from. Do not eat or buy oysters from questionable areas, especially those with poor sanitation.
To prevent food poisoning from oysters and other foods, sanitation is the key. Keep your workplace clean. Wash your hands. Wash your foods properly, especially if you intend to eat them raw. And cook food thoroughly. And people with weak immune systems should avoid oysters in general since they are much more susceptible to contacting diseases.