The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has temporarily suspended shellfish harvesting from a portion of the Delaware Bay. The suspension began at August 19 after health officials had confirmed two cases of illness linked to oysters harvested from the bay. The illness was caused by Vibrio parahaemolyticus, a bacterium that can cause symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and, less frequently, headache, fever and chills. On rare occasions, an infection in the bloodstream can occur. Vibrio parahaemolyticus is especially prone to cause problems for people with compromised immune systems. Vibrio parahaemolyticus occurs naturally in coast waters. Since it thrives in warm waters, a majority of the cases occur during warm summer months when people consume sea food contaminated with the bacterium.

Delaware Bay is a large estuary outlet of the Delaware River on the Atlantic coast of the United States. The bay is bordered by the states New Jersey and Delaware. The entire bay is 782 square miles (2,030 km²) in area, but only about 130 square miles (337 km²) of Delaware Bay is affected by the suspension. If you wish to see a map of the affected area, take a look at this PDF-file:

http://www.state.nj.us/dep/wms/bmw/Closures_Revocations/HarvSusp20080818signed.pdf

The public notice has been posted on the DEP website: http://www.nj.gov/dep/newsrel/2008/08_0042.htm