Not only oysters; clam-associated vibriosis, USA, 1988–2010

Infections with Vibrio spp. have frequently been associated with consumption of bivalve molluscs, especially oysters, but illness associated with clams has also been well documented. We describe the 2312 domestically acquired foodborne Vibrio infections reported to the Cholera and Other Vibrio Illness Surveillance system from 1988 to 2010. clamsClams were associated with at least 4% (93 persons, ‘only clams’) and possibly as many as 24% (556 persons, ‘any clams’) of foodborne cases. Of those who consumed ‘only clams’, 77% of infections were caused by V. parahaemolyticus. Clam-associated illnesses were generally similar to those associated with other seafood consumption. Clams associated with these illnesses were most frequently harvested from the Atlantic coastal states and eaten raw. Our study describes the contribution of clams to the overall burden of foodborne vibriosis and indicates that a comprehensive programme to prevent foodborne vibriosis need to address the risks associated with clams.