Bowen researches oyster foodborne illness outbreak
Biology professors and graduate students at University of Massachusetts Boston are working to prevent future outbreaks of a foodborne illness like the one that caused oyster beds in Edgartown's Katama Bay to close last week.
The Department of Public Health closed the beds Sept. 3 because of environmental conditions conducive to the growth of Vibrio parahaemolyticus in oysters harvested from the area.
At UMass Boston's School for the Environment, researchers are trying to trace the outbreak and prevent infected oysters from making it to a raw bar, according to statement from the school.
"One of the challenges faced by oyster farmers is that there is a considerable lag time between when oysters are harvested and when a potentially pathogenic Vibrio outbreak is reported," said Jennifer Bowen, a biology professor at the school.
New England Aquarium's Michael Tlusty also is working with the school to investigate whether farming practices in Rhode Island, Duxbury and Wellfleet contribute to healthier oysters, the statement said.
The group hypothesizes that a community of "good microbes" in the sediment around oyster beds would make the oysters more resistant to disease outbreaks like the one in Katama Bay.