The September 27, 2000 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association included an article entitled, "Emergence of a new Vibrio parahaemolyticus serotype in raw oysters. A prevention quandary." This article reported on a 1998 outbreak of acute gastroenteritis in the United States caused by oysters that contained the bacteria V. parahaemolyticus. The article did not provide information about subsequent actions taken by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference (ISSC) to help prevent outbreaks of V. parahaemolyticus associated with consumption of raw oysters.
Following the outbreak in 1998, FDA provided guidance and recommendations to ISSC which prescribed monitoring for this pathogen. In 1999 a new interim control plan for preventing outbreaks caused by V. parahaemolyticus was unanimously approved as guidance for the states at the annual ISSC meeting. The plan prescribes monitoring oysters specifically during periods of the year known to be associated with the occurrence of V. parahaemolyticus in those states where outbreaks and sporadic cases have been found to occur.
Detection of pathogenic V. parahaemolyticus results in closure of waters to harvesting shellfish until monitoring indicates the pathogen is no longer detectable or until environmental temperatures become unfavorable for the proliferation of this organism. These requirements are intended to prevent shellfish-borne outbreaks caused by this organism.
It is important for health professionals and consumers to be assured that CDC, FDA, and ISSC recognize that V. parahaemolyticus is a public health problem and are committed to addressing this problem associated with molluscan shellfish.