Rhode Island Issues Public Health Warning for Shellfish After Hazardous Bacteria Levels Found
SOUTH KINGSTON, RI — Officials from the Rhode Island Department of Health and Environmental Management are advising consumers to avoid shellfish harvested from Point Judith Pond in Narragansett and Winnapaug Pond in Westerly until further notice. Both are popular grounds for both commercial and recreational shellfishing. High bacterial levels have been found in samples collected last week as a result of heavy rainfall, according to Environmental Management spokesman Mike Healey. Heavy rainfall has also been responsible for several beach closures in the state last week.
The closure affects areas north of a line from the eastern tip of High Point in South Kingstown to Thomas Point on Great Island, as well as north of Horseshoe Point on Great Island to the northern tip of Locke Point in Narragansett. All of Wolcott Cove is included in the closure.
Officials indicate the high bacteria count in samples collected on July 24th could lead to gastroenteritis. Official recalls of commercially harvested shellfish from the affected regions have been initiated, and both the DEM and the Rhode Island Department of Health have issued a warning advising consumers to dispose of any shellfish harvested from the closed areas after July 23 immediately.
The areas remain closed to both commercial and recreational harvesting until new samples collected on Monday indicate they’re safe to reopen. Officials state the earliest they could predict reopening would be Wednesday, July 31.
Symptoms of gastroenteritis include vomiting, stomach ache, diarrhea and fever. The condition can be a serious health concern for young children, the elderly, and individuals with compromised immune systems. If you suspect you’re experiencing any related symptoms, please contact your health care provider or a local emergency room immediately.