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Officials: Hazardous Bacteria Contaminating Long Island Oysters

But State Officials Have Reopened Most Waters For Harvesting

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OYSTER BAY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Some Long Island residents and tourists are feeling uneasy about eating oysters now that they have learned that a hazardous bacteria contaminated shellfish in some waters.

In late June, nearly 5,000 acres in Oyster Bay and Cold Spring harbors, on the north shore of Long Island, were closed for the shellfish harvest by the state Department of Environmental Conservation. About 1,000 acres in Oyster Bay remain off-limits for oyster harvesting, CBS 2’s Vanessa Murdock reported Wednesday.

Some shellfish have been contaminated with the naturally occurring vibrio bacteria. Increased runoff from summer rains has meant higher bacteria levels, officials said.

“Shellfish, they are filter feeders,” said Debra Barnes of the Department of Environmental Conservation. “We’re talking about oysters, clams, mussels and scallops. Will incorporate these bacteria and pathogens into the tissue, which would make the shellfish considered to be hazardous.”

Some people reported getting sick from eating tainted shellfish this summer. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

Oyster farmer Robert Defeo said people should not be worried about eating shellfish from the harbors, but if they are, they should fully cook them first. He added that it’s important to him to sell a healthy product.

“If anybody is worried about the product, I would tell you not to worry about it,” Defeo said. “I mean, my kids eat it. My wife eats it.”

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