The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island of Environmental Management (DEM) are announcing the immediate closure of the Potters Pond (GA10PP), located in South Kingstown, to all shellfish harvesting. The pond will remain closed until further notice.
The closure is the result of an investigation that linked human illnesses to shellfish harvested in the area. A shellfish sample that was collected by RIDOH tested positive for Campylobacter lari. The sample was collected because of an ongoing investigation into seven instances in which people became ill after consuming raw shellfish between August 11th and August 19th. Two of these individuals tested positive for Campylobacter Jejuni, which is a different type of Campylobacter. The positive shellfish sample does not match the illnesses from the investigation. However, the detection of Campylobacter lari indicates the presence of Campylobacter. RIDOH is collecting additional shellfish samples for further testing.
RIDOH has contacted all commercial harvesters in this area to ensure that any product harvested during this time frame is not sold at restaurants and markets. RIDOH is urging recreational harvesters who harvested shellfish in Potters Pond between September 9th through September 11th to either discard the shellfish or avoid consuming them raw or undercooked. (The pond had been closed for a period of time before September 9th because of heavy rain.) Cooking the shellfish until it reaches an internal temperature of at least 145°F can reduce the risk of infection. Quick steaming is not sufficient to prevent gastrointestinal illness from these pathogens. Raw oysters and shellfish that contain harmful bacteria or viruses may look, smell, and taste normal.
People with Campylobacter infection usually have diarrhea (often bloody), fever, and stomach cramps. Nausea and vomiting may accompany the diarrhea. These symptoms usually start two to five days after the person ingests Campylobacter and last about one week. In some cases, individuals can develop more serious complications. If you consumed shellfish from this area and are ill and concerned about your health you should seek medical attention. If you believe you became ill after consuming raw shellfish, you can report to RIDOH by calling 401-222-2749 during business hours and 401-276-8046 after hours. RIDOH will update this announcement once additional samples are collected and tested.
Rhode Island shellfish are much sought-after seafood because of a long history of delivering a high-quality product. This is achieved by diligent monitoring of shellfish harvesting waters and reported illnesses, protecting public health with a high level of oversight when conditions indicate a change in water quality either from natural sources such as algae blooms or by the quick response to emergency conditions. DEM, RIDOH, and the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council, along with industry partners, collaborate to ensure that shellfish grown and harvested from Rhode Island waters continues to be a quality safe seafood product to be enjoyed by all consumers.