Virginia Department of Health updates closure of shellfish harvesting

virginia-newThe Virginia Department of Health announced Friday that a portion of the james river will be opened to harvesting shellfish effective September 20, 2014. This change modifies the emergency closure that was put into effect September 9, 2014.

Maps of the affected areas are posted on the Division of Shellfish Sanitation’s home page athttp://www.vdh.virginia.gov/EnvironmentalHealth/Shellfish/documents/emer_cond069M.pdf. The affected shellfish are bivalve mollusks including oysters and clams, but not crabs or fin fish.

Monitoring shellfish harvesting beds is an important means to protect the health of Virginians. The Division of Shellfish Sanitation watches shellfish beds for contaminants after major storms to ensure any shellfish harvested there do not contain harmful substances that will make consumers of these shellfish ill.

Heavy rainfall that occurred on September 8-9 caused localized flooding and sewage bypasses impacting the james river adjacent to newport news. Due to potential microbiological and chemical pollution hazards, shellfish taken from areas affected by the emergency closure are currently unacceptable for consumption.

Ingesting shellfish taken from the closed areas at this time could cause gastrointestinal illnesses including norovirus, hepatitis A and shigellosis.

For more information on shellfish closures, see the frequently asked questions on shellfish condemnations atwww.vdh.virginia.gov/EnvironmentalHealth/Shellfish/faq/.



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