Oysters Can in Fact Get Herpes, And It’s Killing Them in Droves


A lethal strain of the herpes virus is severely threatening Pacific oysters, the world’s most popular and valuable oyster species, according to Smithsonian Magazine.

Ostreid herpesvirus 1 (OsHV-1) is the virus that’s got oyster experts concerned, saying it’s almost certain the virus will spread throughout our globally connected world.

What you need to know:

  • Humans can’t contract Ostreid herpesvirus 1 (OsHV-1) from eating infected oysters – it can only spread to other bivalve species.
  • An outbreak of this deadly herpes virus began in France back in 2008, and from there spread to England (where it claimed over 8 million oysters in 2010), New Zealand, and Australia. So far, the virus has been detected in Tomales Bay, California, but has not spread in U.S. waters.
  • Vaccinating oysters is out of the question. Instead, experts are already working on breeding “disease-resistant oyster lines” and researchers are desperately trying to identify any genes involved in fighting the virus, writes University of Maryland, Baltimore County professor Colleen Burge.

Why it’s important:

Aside from being a multi-billion-dollar (that’s billion with a B) industry, these scrumptious molluscs filter upwards of 50 gallons of sea water per oyster a day.

The 2008 outbreak in France caused prices to skyrocket:

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