Shrimp, crabs, clams, oysters and other raw shellfish can be contaminated with the ocean-based vibrio bacteria that causes vibriosis — a type of food poisoning that can be very serious, particularly for people with certain pre-existing conditions like liver disease, cancer, diabetes, HIV or thalassemia. Symptoms include watery diarrhea, often accompanied by abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting, fever and chills, occurring within 24 hours of ingestion and lasting up to three days. “Because shellfish are filter feeders, they can accumulate the bacteria as they filter in water, and the bacteria can easily multiply in warm-water areas where the shellfish are harvested,” Sullard explains. Unfortunately, there is no way to tell if shellfish are contaminated because they may look and smell fine. However, symptoms of the illness, which usually show within 12 to 24 hours and can last up to a week, won’t be so subtle and can include diarrhea, cramping, vomiting, fever and chills. To avoid getting sick, Sullard suggests avoiding raw or undercooked shellfish or using the CDC’s recommended cooking techniques to kill bacteria. Additionally, keep them away from other food, sanitize all kitchen surfaces and cutlery that come in contact with shellfish and wash your hands thoroughly after handling.
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