Bayesian risk assessment model of human cryptosporidiosis cases following consumption of raw Eastern oysters (Crassostrea virginica) contaminated with Cryptosporidium oocysts in the Hillsborough River system in Prince Edward Island, Canada

Thitiwan Patanasatienkul, Spencer J. Greenwood, J. T. McClure, Jeff Davidson, Ian Gardner, Javier Sanchez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Cryptosporidium spp. has been associated with foodborne infectious disease outbreaks; however, it is unclear to what extent raw oyster consumption poses a risk to public health. Control of Cryptosporidium in shellfish harvest seawater in Canada is not mandatory and, despite relay/depuration processes, the parasite can remain viable in oysters for at least a month (depending on initial loads and seawater characteristics). Risks of human infection and illness from exposure to oysters contaminated with Cryptosporidium oocysts were assessed in a Bayesian framework. Two data sets were used: counts of oocysts in oysters harvested in Approved, Restricted, and Prohibited zones of the Hillsborough River system; and oocyst elimination rate from oysters exposed to oocysts in laboratory experiments. A total of 20 scenarios were assessed according to number of oysters consumed in a single serving (1, 10 and 30) and different relay times. The median probability of infection and developing cryptosporidiosis (e.g. illness) due to the consumption of raw oysters in Prince Edward Island was zero for all scenarios. However, the 95th percentiles ranged from 2% to 81% and from 1% to 59% for probability of infection and illness, respectively. When relay times were extended from 14 to 30 days and 10 oysters were consumed in one serving from the Restricted zones, these probabilities were reduced from 35% to 16% and from 15% to 7%, respectively. The 14-day relay period established by Canadian authorities for harvesting in Restricted zones seems prudent, though insufficient, as this relay period has been shown to be enough to eliminate fecal coliforms but not Cryptosporidium oocysts, which can remain viable in the oyster for over a month. Extending relay periods of 14 and 21 days for oysters harvested in Restricted zones to 30 days is likely insufficient to substantially decrease the probability of infection and illness. The highest risk was found for oysters that originated in Prohibited zones. Our findings suggest that Cryptosporidium oocysts are a potential cause of foodborne infection and illness when consuming raw oysters from Hillsborough River, one of the most important oyster production bays on Prince Edward Island. We discuss data gaps and limitations of this work in order to identify future research that can be used to reduce the uncertainties in predicted risks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere00079
JournalFood and Waterborne Parasitology
Volume19
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2020
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Bayesian inference
  • Cryptosporidium
  • Human infection
  • Oyster
  • Risk assessment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Epidemiology

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