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Cooking Shellfish Protects Against Bacteria

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Dr. Clifford Mitchell recommends thinking twice about eating raw shellfish.
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Dr. Clifford Mitchell recommends thinking twice about eating raw shellfish.

By Sabri Ben-Achour

The brackish water of the Chesapeake Bay is warming, as it does every summer, and Maryland Health Officials say that means the risk of bacterial infection is rising, too.

Cooking shellfish is one way to protect yourself.

Stan Wise is shucking oysters at the raw bar at Jesse Taylor Seafood on the Southwest Waterfront. His favorite way to eat oysters is what he calls the Eastern Shore Way.

"You use your Oysters with Juice, green pepper, onion, little bit of mustard, and put 'em in pancake mix, and you fry it. Make it into cakes," says Wise.

Wise's oysters are from cold water farms, but his recipe is a good idea if you get shellfish from warmer places including the Chesapeake Bay, at least this time of year.

As the water gets warmer, there's more Vibrio, that's a bacteria related to cholera. It can get into shellfish and can make people sick, says Dr Clifford Mitchell. He's Maryland's Assistant Director for Environmental Health and Food Protection.

"We know there is a chance you can get exposed to vibrio in warmer waters with raw seafood, so we want to make sure that people know that and take appropriate precautions," says Mitchell.

Just keep shellfish cool, make sure you trust your restaurant, and think twice about raw shellfish if you have underlying health problems. Mitchell also advises against swimming in brackish water with open cuts.

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