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SOUTH SOUND: Cook before you slurp, health officials say

Warm weather and low tides predicted for Memorial Day weekend have prompted state Department of Health officials to remind people not to eat raw oysters off the beach.

People eating raw oysters taken from warm water could contract vibriosis, a naturally occurring bacteria that can cause diarrhea, nausea, stomach cramps, headache, vomiting, fever and chills.

To guard against vibriosis, recreational harvesters should place on ice or refrigerate oysters soon after harvest. Don’t harvest oysters that have been exposed by a low tide for a long time, health officials added.

When oysters are cooked at 145 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 seconds, the vibriosis bacteria is destroyed.

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