The state Board of Health has adopted revisions to the state’s vibrio parahaemolyticus bacteria control plan, which aims to reduce illness caused by eating shellfish, according to a press release Monday.
Samish Bay shellfish growers have supported the plan, seeing it as a way to reduce unnecessary harvest closures and cut down on illness among those who prefer to eat raw shellfish.
Vibrio thrives in warm temperatures and can cause intestinal distress when eaten.
Last year, the state Department of Health received 76 reports of vibrio-related illness, a handful of which led to a two-month closure for Samish Bay shellfish harvesters Taylor Shellfish Farms and Blau Oyster Co.
The revisions set water temperature thresholds that prompt shorter harvest times or full closures when exceeded. For inland areas, closures will occur at 66 degrees and last until 24 hours after the temperature drops back into normal range.
Also among the revisions is a requirement to report harvest quantity and water temperatures to the state. The reports will enable the state to look at the ratio of sickness to the number of shellfish consumed, according to the release.
The Department of Health will hold training sessions April 23-24 in Burlington for area growers and public health staff, a Department of Health official confirmed.