August 26, 2011
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VIRGINIA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH CLOSES CHESAPEAKE BAY AND SEASIDE EASTERN SHORE TO SHELLFISH HARVESTING
(RICHMOND, Va.)— The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) announced today that Virginia’s portion of the Chesapeake Bay and the Eastern Shore west of and including the Virginia Inside Passage, also known as the Intracoastal Waterway, will be closed to shellfish harvesting due to anticipated severe weather associated with Hurricane Irene.
The emergency closure will be effective August 28, 2011 through September 3, 2011. VDH staff will continue to assess the situation throughout the region and may revise the closure as conditions indicate.
Heavy rainfall and tidal flooding from the hurricane in upland areas may wash animal waste and human sewage into tidal waters. Due to potential microbiological and chemical pollution hazards, shellfish taken from areas affected by these hazards are unacceptable for consumption.
“Monitoring shellfish harvesting beds is an important means to protect the health of Virginians,” said State Health Commissioner Karen Remley, MD, MBA, FAAP. “We monitor shellfish beds for contaminants after major storms to ensure any seafood harvested there does not contain harmful substances that will make consumers of these shellfish ill.”
Ingesting shellfish taken from the closed areas at this time could cause gastrointestinal illnesses including norovirus, hepatitis A and shigellosis.
A map of the affected areas is posted at www.vdh.virginia.gov/Shellfish/. The affected shellfish are bivalve mollusks including oysters, clams and scallops, but not crabs or fin fish.
For more information on shellfish closures, see the frequently asked questions on shellfish condemnations at www.vdh.virginia.gov/EnvironmentalHealth/Shellfish/faq/index.htm.