Photo: Getty Images. A fresh oyster, not infected.
Those oyster parts floating in cocktail sauce shooters could be carrying more than an aphrodisiac, according to National Geographic. Researchers say oysters off the coast of France, and now the UK, are contracting a new strain of herpes called "Ostreid herpesvirus 1 (OsHV-1) μvar (mew-var)." The disease infects oysters when temperatures reach 61 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer and is viral enough to kill 80 percent of infected oyster populations. It's speculated the disease appeared due to global warming increasing the temperature of ocean waters off Northern Europe.
Not to worry, though. Those pesky oyster herpes aren't the same as found in some humans, although the mollusk is still unsafe to eat once infected. The Mother Nature Network wrote that the British government has banned the shipping of oysters from possible infection points. So far, the virus is only affecting oysters, however, there's a possibility of mussels, clams and other mollusks contracting the disease.
If you often jam out with your oyster out, here are some suggestions for keeping herpes-free:
- Stay safe. Always be sure to protect your oyster. While the fishy creature may not be producing pearls, that's no reason to leave it exposed to the elements. As the herpes virus only awakens in warmer temperatures, frequently cooling your oyster with iced cocktails is probably your best option.
- Know who you're playing with. Oyster herpes are extremely contagious. Take caution when meeting new friends by asking for their oyster-herpes history. If you sense danger, it's best to zip your oyster in a plastic bag filled with ice water.
- Prepare for the worst. If you suspect that, beyond your safeguarding, your oyster has contracted herpes, it's best to euthanize the bugger before it infects others. This can be done with heavy rocks, boiling water or exposure to seagulls. While a strong bond between human and oyster may develop throughout the course of joint adventures, it's best to know when to say goodbye.
-- JUSTIN McCRAW
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