Simple Measures for Shellfish Harvesting

With low tides expected through this holiday week, Washington State Department of Health officials are reminding recreational shellfish harvesters to take extra precautions to prevent illness from shellfish.

Follow the Three Cs – check, chill and cook.

  • Check the DOH Shellfish Safety Map on the day you’re headed to the beach to ensure areas are open and approved. Shellfish should be harvested as the tide goes out. If the temperature is high, pass them by.
  • Chill Bring a cooler with ice with you. Oysters should be put on ice or refrigerated as soon as possible after being collected.
  • Cook at 145° F for 15 seconds to destroy Vibrio bacteria. Wash your hands frequently and do not return cooked shellfish to the plate where raw shellfish was prepared.

Each year, DOH receives reports of vibriosis illnesses from people who ate raw or undercooked oysters they collected themselves. Found naturally in the environment, Vibrio parahaemolyticus bacteria grows quickly in warm temperatures.

Vibriosis symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, headache, fever and chills. The illness is usually mild or moderate and runs its course in two to three days.