Why are so many people falling ill after eating raw oysters?

oysters for food
Fresh oysters on stone table.

Seafood lovers, beware!

What do the statistics say about how likely you are to become seriously ill or die due to consuming raw oysters?

The CDC says there were 1,890 foodborne illness outbreaks in 2011 involving shellfish. Of those illnesses, 779 involved shucking/eating contaminated raw oyster products. The most recent data on deaths due to seafood-related pathogens was published in 2005. According to the report, “Seafood-associated bacterial infections caused an estimated 17,000 hospitalizations and 500 deaths during 1997–2003.” In addition, “Of these cases, approximately one third resulted from consumption of raw fish and shellfish; another third occurred with nonbacterial agents such as :

  • Vibrio parahaemolyticus.
  • Shigella flexneri.
  • Salmonella enterica serotype Typhi.
  • Escherichia coli O157: H7.
  • Campylobacter jejuni.

What does raw oyster do to your body?

Oysters are filter feeders, meaning they take water into their digestive tract, removing plankton and other organisms from the water. This process allows the animal’s gills to breathe air instead of taking up oxygen dissolved in the water. When you consume oysters, you are swallowing both the meat and the shells along with the tiny creatures inside.

Can we be poisoned by eating raw oysters? Is this true, and if so, how often does it happen?

Yes, but not very often. The risk is shallow for healthy adults who eat only cooked foods. Oysters contain high levels of vitamin B12, which helps protect against nerve damage. They also contain zinc which protects your immune system. But even though they’re good sources of vitamins and minerals, they still carry risks because bacteria can increase at room temperature when eaten raw. There has never been any evidence that suggests that raw oysters cause disease. However, the FDA requires all
raw oysters sold in the U.S. to undergo testing before being shipped out of state. If they test positive for Vibrio vulnificus, the oysters must either be discarded or treated with chlorine dioxide gas to kill off the harmful microorganisms.

What kind of illnesses can you get from eating raw oysters?

There are three main types of foodborne illness associated with consuming shellfish: gastrointestinal disorders, neurological problems, and skin conditions. You may develop gastroenteritis within 12 hours of ingesting them. You might feel sicker than usual for several days afterward, mainly if you ate more than three dozen oysters. Some people experience vomiting or stomach cramps immediately following ingestion, while others don’t notice anything unusual until later. Symptoms usually go away without treatment within two weeks. Occasionally, however, symptoms last longer. Gastrointestinal illnesses include diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea, and sometimes fever.

Can I get sick from eating just one raw oyster?

No, you cannot get sick from eating just a single raw oyster. It takes between 5 and 10 million bacteria per gram of oyster flesh to make someone sick. That means that a person would have to eat 50 or 100 times the amount required to make them sick to contract a severe infection. A study conducted in New York City found that less than 0.1 percent of restaurant diners became infected from eating.

Do oysters make you feel high?

Not really. Eating an ounce of fresh oysters causes about 1 milligram of dopamine to enter your bloodstream. Dopamine is involved in feelings of pleasure, motivation, attention, concentration, and memory. So yes, oysters do give you some sense of euphoria. Scientists believe that humans enjoy drinking alcohol due to its ability to activate similar chemicals in our brains as those produced naturally by oysters.


Thus, eating seashells must be done with greater caution. Most preferably, cooking the oysters will reduce the disease caused by them. It is important to note that the shellfish should only be eaten after boiling them thoroughly. This will ensure that the toxins present in the shellfish are killed off.


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