Plump, briny oysters harvested in New Hampshire are finding their way onto more menus, and state officials say it’s time to start evaluating the risk for a naturally occurring bacteria that’s made headlines elsewhere.
The Department of Environmental Services is contracting with a University of New Hampshire laboratory to test oysters for Vibrio parahaemolyticus, a gastrointestinal illness associated with the consumption of raw shellfish. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the bacteria, which naturally inhabits coastal waters where oysters live, can cause diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, fever, and headaches that last between one and seven days.
The call for testing comes as people in New Hampshire are eating more local oysters. In recent years, the Granite State’s commercial oyster aquaculture industry has grown substantially, from two licensed sites in 2010 to 32 in 2023. Oysters have made a significant comeback in Great Bay, which is designated as one of 28 estuaries of national significance by the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Estuary Program.
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