June 24, 2019

About 100 Norovirus Cases in California From Raw British Columbia Oysters

About 100 people are sick in a norovirus outbreak linked to raw oysters from south and central Baynes Sound in British Columbia, Canada as of April 27, 2018. The California Department of Pubic Health (CDPH) is warning consumers to avoid that shellfish.

Oysters Norovirus Outbreak

Those sickened ate the oysters at restaurants and purchased them at retailers throughout the state. There are ill persons in California and in Canada. Canada has reported 172 sick in this outbreak. Laboratory testing has confirmed these illnesses. The number of new patients decreased this week, but the investigation is ongoing.

Four oysters farms in the south and central Baynes Sound area of British Columbia are linked to the outbreak. Those farms were closed between March 23 and April 13, 2018, and remain closed at this time. All restaurants and retailers should not sell or serve oysters from these farms. The farms are identified by these landfill numbers on the shellfish tags: CLF #1402060, CLF #1411206, CLF #1400483, and CLF #278757.

CSPH Director and State Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith said in a statement, “Avoid eating raw and undercooked shellfish, including oysters, to reduce your risk of illness. If you do eat shellfish, cook it until it reaches an internal temperature of at least 145°F. Quick steaming isn’t sufficient to kill norovirus.” The oysters should be boiled for 3 to 5 minutes after the shells open, or steamed for 5 to 9 minutes.

This illness is highly contagious. It spreads through person-to-person contact, through contaminated food, and by touching surfaces that have been contaminated. People usually get sick about 12 to 48 hours after contacting the virus, and lasts for a few days. Symptoms of this illness include diarrhea, nausea vomiting, and stomach cramps.

If you have eaten raw oysters and have been sick, see your doctor. And remember that raw and undercooked shellfish always carries a risk of illness, including norovirus, hepatitis A, and Vibrio.

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