National Education Program to Influence...
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REPORT TITLE: National Education Program to Influence Consumption Behavior of High-Risk Individuals Regarding Raw Molluscan Shellfish - Phase III Final Report

AUTHOR: Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference (ISSC)

PUBLISH DATE: December 2002



ISSC Final Report 1 Since 1996, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Saltonstall-Kennedy Grants Program has funded the Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference (ISSC) to conduct educational programs aimed at reducing illness from Vibrio vulnificus infection. This grant, A National Education Program to Influence Consumption Behavior of High- Risk Individuals Regarding Raw Molluscan Shellfish-Phase III, is the third in a multipart effort to develop educational strategies, materials and partnerships to realize this goal.

Until recently, V. vulnificus disease reduction efforts were voluntary and carried out primarily by the ISSC. In July 2001, however, the ISSC formally adopted Issue 00-201 with confirmation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The National Shellfish Sanitation Program (NSSP) Guide for the Control of Molluscan Shellfish now requires states to develop and implement a Vibrio vulnificus Risk Management Plan if there are two or three V. vulnificus cases associated with raw or undercooked oysters originating from the waters of that state.

The collective goal of these risk management plans is to reduce rates of V. vulnificus illness by 40 percent for 2005-2006, and 60 percent for 2007Ė2008. Illness reduction rates will be determined using case reports collected by FDAís Southeast Regional Office. Issue 00-201 also identifies the regulatory consequences should core statesí efforts fail to meet these illness reduction goals. These new guidelines prompt states to implement effective education and prevention measures to avoid regulatory actions which would significantly affect the shellfish industry.

Since the passage of Issue 00-201, four states have developed Vibrio vulnificus Risk Management Plans: Florida, Texas, Louisiana, and Alabama. The NSSP Guide requires that all risk reduction plans include consumer education programs targeting consumers at increased risk of V. vulnificus infection. During Phase III, the ISSC ISSC Final Report 2 provided financial and technical assistance to states required to develop risk management plans. The ISSC assisted these states, along with California and Mississippi, in designing education programs, selecting priority audiences, and linking media activities to these audiences. The ISSC also supplied informational materials to many other state and federal agencies.

During Phase III, the ISSC developed several new educational materials (e.g., a video press kit, a consumer brochure in Spanish, and several articles for high-risk audiences, and a health care provider kit) and updated others (e.g., the consumer brochure and physician fact sheet). In addition to material development and dissemination, the ISSC furthered collaboration with voluntary organizations serving those at risk, such as the American Liver Foundation (ALF). The ALFís relationship to Veteran Administration hospitals and Hispanic community groups opened new doors to reaching high-risk communities.

A survey of raw oyster consumers was among Phase IIIís most important accomplishments. Issue 00-201 charged the ISSCís Vibrio Management Committee with evaluating state educational efforts using a consumer survey. Members of the ISSC's Vibrio vulnificus Education Subcommittee drafted the questionnaire. The ISSC contracted Clearwater Research Inc. to collect and analyze the data. This information serves as a baseline measure of consumer awareness, attitudes and behavior. It also provides a basis for assessing changes in consumer knowledge and behavior over the next several years.

Over the course of this project, the ISSC implemented six principal interventions:

  1. Surveyed raw oyster consumers to establish their current risk awareness and behavior;

  2. Developed partnerships with organizations with direct links to persons at risk;

  3. Disseminated consumer brochures and fact sheets to agencies and individuals involved in V. vulnificus education;

  4. Provided funds for core and other states to conduct educational activities;

  5. Inserted articles on V. vulnificus in magazines or other media reaching those at high-risk; and

  6. Developed and disseminated V. vulnificus press kits to all ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX media outlets in three core states.

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