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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2010 May;76(9):2754-68. doi: 10.1128/AEM.02590-09. Epub 2010 Feb 26.

Bacterial and viral pathogens in live oysters: 2007 United States market survey.

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U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Gulf Coast Seafood Laboratory, Dauphin Island, Alabama 36528-0158, USA.


Two samples of market oysters, primarily from retail establishments, were collected twice each month in each of nine states during 2007. Samples were shipped refrigerated overnight to five U.S. Food and Drug Administration laboratories on a rotating basis and analyzed by most probable number (MPN) for total and pathogenic Vibrio parahaemolyticus and V. vulnificus numbers and for the presence of toxigenic V. cholerae, Salmonella spp., norovirus (NoV), and hepatitis A virus (HAV). Levels of indicator organisms, including fecal coliforms (MPN), Escherichia coli (MPN), male-specific bacteriophage, and aerobic plate counts, were also determined. V. parahaemolyticus and V. vulnificus levels were distributed seasonally and geographically by harvest region and were similar to levels observed in a previous study conducted in 1998-1999. Levels of pathogenic V. parahaemolyticus were typically several logs lower than total V. parahaemolyticus levels regardless of season or region. Pathogenic V. parahaemolyticus levels in the Gulf and Mid-Atlantic regions were about two logs greater than the levels observed in the Pacific and North Atlantic regions. Pathogens generally associated with fecal pollution were detected sporadically or not at all (toxigenic V. cholerae, 0%; Salmonella, 1.5%; NoV, 3.9%; HAV, 4.4%). While seasonal prevalences of NoV and HAV were generally greater in oysters harvested from December to March, the low detection frequency obscured any apparent seasonal effects. Overall, there was no relationship between the levels of indicator microorganisms and the presence of enteric viruses. These data provide a baseline that can be used to further validate risk assessment predictions, determine the effectiveness of new control measures, and compare the level of protection provided by the U.S. shellfish sanitation system to those in other countries.

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