Thursday, September 20, 2007

Vibrio parahaemolyticus

Oysters are bivalve shellfish which have two hinged shells. Clams, scallops, mussels and cockles belong to the same family.

This is information the Canadian Food Inspection Agency suggested I read when I asked if raw oysters might affect animals (specifically Hugo the Boston Terrier) in the same way as humans if they carried the bacteria, Vibrio parahaemolyticus.

Bacteria and viruses:

Bacteria and viruses from the surrounding water, capable of causing illness, may concentrate in bivalve shellfish. Areas not meeting sanitary standards are closed for the harvesting of shellfish. Consumers should also be aware of the potential for illness due to Vibrio parahaemolyticus (Vp). Vp is a naturally occurring bacterium found in our coastal waters and during the summer months Vp can increase to levels which may cause illness. Infection results in gastroenteritis, typically including diarrhea and abdominal cramps which may last several days.

Hugo had a lot of fun wading in the water at Egmont, digging at pawing at the oysters until he managed to get them into water shallow enough to stick his head into and pick them up with his mouth. He then carried them up the beach, lay in the grass with his paws holding the oyster and he chewed at the edges until the oyster muscle finally gave and the shell opened enough for him to eat the oyster.

It was pretty cute the first time I saw him do it, but Kent and I realized very quickly it was rather dangerous for him to be chewing on the shells - especially since he was obviously swallowing some. We were able to keep him from eating any more, but it wasn't easy!

And what about the oyster meat? Our friend Gus told us about Vibrio parahaemolyticus, a bacteria which may cause illness - in humans. What about dogs? Could it affect them - longterm? Would it cause the same symptoms - or more severe?

Ummmmm... Canadian Food and Safety replied to my email to say - ask your veterinarian. Hmmmm, okay then, I'll do that if Hugo's diarrhea continues once we are home.

Any advice or opinions in the meantime?

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