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For Release: Friday, August 3, 2012

DEC Partially Rescinds Shellfish Closure in the Town of Oyster Bay, Nassau County

The Harvest of Shellfish Other than Oysters Is Permitted

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today announced that the harvesting of shellfish, other than oysters, from particular areas in the Town of Oyster Bay is permitted, effective at sunrise, Saturday, August 4.

The closure of approximately 1,980 acres in Oyster Bay Harbor on the north shore of the Town of Oyster Bay was implemented pursuant to National Shellfish Sanitation program requirements following the documented illness of at least 10 individuals who consumed raw or partially cooked shellfish that had been harvested in Oyster Bay Harbor. The illnesses were caused by the naturally-occurring marine bacteria, Vibrio parahaemolyticus. State Department of Health determined that the illnesses were associated with the consumption of shellfish or foods which were cross contaminated with raw shellfish and DEC determined the source of the shellfish.

When ingested, Vibrio parahaemolyticus may cause diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, often accompanied by abdominal cramps, fever and chills. Symptoms usually occur within 24 hours of ingestion and full recovery may take up to a week. More severe illness may occur in people with compromised immune systems or underlying chronic diseases. To greatly reduce the risk of illness from Vibrio parahaemolyticus in shellfish, all shellfish should be thoroughly cooked prior to consumption.

DEC collected hard clam and oyster samples from Oyster Bay Harbor on July 16 and July 30 for testing by a U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) laboratory. The results of the testing showed that Vibrio parahaemolyticus was no longer present in hard clams at levels that are hazardous to human health. FDA has recommended that additional testing of oysters be conducted over the next two weeks before the area can be reopened for harvesting oysters.

Based on these findings, DEC has partially rescinded the closure order that was implemented on July 12. The harvest of shellfish other than oysters is permitted from the normally certified areas of Oyster Bay Harbor. The harvest of oysters continues to be prohibited in all of the normally certified shellfish lands in Oyster Bay Harbor lying westerly of a line extending southerly from the stone house at Plum Point (Centre Island) to the northwestern most point of Cove Point on Cove Neck.

Additionally, information about temporary shellfish closures is available through a recorded message at (631) 444-0480. That message is updated when changes are made to temporary closures. A map showing the affected temporary shellfish closure areas is available on the DEC website.

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