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April 5, 1976

Oyster-Associated Hepatitis

Author Affiliations

President Olympia Oyster Company Shelton, Wash

JAMA. 1976;235(14):1425-1426. doi:10.1001/jama.1976.03260400013011

To the Editor.—  The article by Portnoy et al (233:1065, 1975) is timely and provocative.We disagree with the titled conclusion, however, that this is a failure of the shellfish certification program. It was the success of the shellfish certification program that permitted this well-done epidemiological study. We strongly suspect the premise that the contaminated oysters came from certified beds. This suspicion is being currently reevaluated by concerned health agencies. The ways of bootleggers are wily.The real problem is not failure of shellfish certification programs, but rather, failure to prevent human sewage outflows over growing areas.Fortunately, in the northwestern part of the United States, our waters continue to be clean. We have had no recorded epidemics or major illness from oyster meats produced here, for over 80 years.Coliform counts for oyster purity can be misleading. Winter rain runoff from our forested areas will increase coliform counts because