Crayfish cross-contamination sickens four with Vibrio in Spokane

Live or boiled crayfish is not anywhere near my list of food favorites. But if it’s yours, then keep raw and cooked foods separate, or people can barf.

CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report today contains a report of two people who were hospitalized on June 24, 2010, in Spokane, Washington with severe dehydration whose stool specimens yielded Vibrio mimicus.

“Investigators learned that both persons had consumed crayfish on June 20, 2010. The previous day, live crayfish obtained from an online seafood company had been boiled and served warm at a party. The chef reported that the boiled crayfish were served out of a cooler that had contained live crayfish, and the cooler had not been cleaned before being used to serve the cooked crayfish. After the party, the remaining crayfish were refrigerated overnight in different containers and served cold as leftovers the following evening on June 20.

“Questionnaires were administered to 21 (95%) of 22 persons who had attended either the party on June 19 or the meal of leftovers on June 20. A case was defined as an illness in any person who had attended the party or the meal and experienced acute, watery diarrhea during June 19–25. Four cases were identified. Consuming leftover crayfish was associated with illness. Of eight persons who consumed leftover crayfish, four (50%) became ill compared with zero of the 13 persons who did not consume leftover crayfish (relative risk = 14; Fisher’s exact test p value = 0.007). No other food items or environmental exposures were associated with illness. V. mimicus was isolated from cultures of stool specimens, and genes encoding cholera toxin were identified by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in all three ill persons who submitted specimens."