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After Summer Heat Delays Open, Georgia’s Oyster Season Now Begins

Georgia’s oyster season is now underway. It was originally set to open Oct. 1, but officials extended the closure until Wednesday.
Georgia’s oyster season is now underway. It was originally set to open Oct. 1, but officials extended the closure until Wednesday.
Credit Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Coastal Resources Division

Georgia’s oyster season opened Wednesday. Closed since June, it was originally set to begin earlier this month.

The opening was delayed because of a threat of bacteria that can occur in raw oysters due to the summer heat.

Research shows the bacteria known as Vibrio parahaemolyticus or Vp tends to spawn in warm waters.

People can get sick with Vp from eating raw oysters.

Symptoms can include vomiting, diarrhea and fever.

“So, normally, the season opens Oct. 1 for oyster harvest, and this year, due to elevated above average water temperatures, we had to extend the closure until water temperatures dropped below the control planned threshold,” said Dominic Guadagnoli, the shellfish fishery manager for the Coastal Resources Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

He said thorough cooking of oysters can destroy all bacteria, including Vp. Still, he adds, most oysters are eaten raw.

According to the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration, most Vp illness cases due to eating raw oysters go unreported.

Vp can also occur in clams. But, Guadagnoli said because clams are usually cooked at high temperatures, that process kills the Vp bacteria.

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