"Good evening, madam--would you prefer horseradish, mignonette or Zovirax with your Kumamotos?"
Kidding! Though you won't see blistering cold sores at the raw bar, a virulent strain of herpes is killing loads of oysters in the Pacific. First spotted in France (merde!) a couple years ago, where it took out 20 to 100 percent of the infected mollusks, it spread to the UK and has now been found in farmed oysters in California. (Though so far it's not as prolific a killer as it was in France.)
According to a recent article on the Discovery website:
[Researcher Tristan Renault] and his team note that "abnormal summer mortalities" associated with the new herpes virus Ostreid herpesvirus 1 (OsHV-1) have been reported among the Pacific cupped Crassostrea gigas, an oyster important to commercial harvests worldwide. It is the number one shellfish resource in Washington State, for example.
National Geographic says the spread can be attributed to global warming, pointing out that, "A new strain named Ostreid herpesvirus 1 (OsHV-1) ?var (mew-var), the virus remains dormant until water temperatures exceed 16 C [61 degrees F], which U.K. waters reach in the height of summer, according to Kevin Denham of the British government's Fish Health Inspectorate."
The type of herp that the oysters are afflicted with has more in common with the mouth, not the south, variety of virus and no, people can't catch it. But it can wipe out an entire oyster bed in a week, costing humans their jobs and depriving us of one of nature's most deliciously slimy aphrodisiacs.