December 10, 2023

Minnesota Oyster Norovirus Outbreak Sickens 29

A Minnesota oyster norovirus outbreak has sickened at least 29 people, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. The raw oysters were harvested from a specific bay in British Columbia, Canada, and were served at Travail Kitchen in Robbinsdale on March 20, 2022.

Minnesota Oyster Norovirus Outbreak Sickens 29

The Minnesota Department of Health, Hennepin County Public Health, and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture are working with federal officials and public health agencies in other states and Canada to investigate norovirus illnesses that are associated with oysters harvested from Bay 14-8 in British Columbia.

Those sickened in Minnesota became ill with confirmed or suspected norovirus gastroenteritis after eating the oysters at Travail Kitchen. The oysters served were Stellar Bay Gold oysters harvested on March 10, 2022 from Deep Bay 14-8 CLF #140706 in British Columbia.

Duane Hudson, Hennepin County Public Health Environmental Health Manager, said in a statement, “Travail Kitchen quickly brought the cases to our attention, and immediately stopped serving oysters. We are grateful to Travail for their help in protecting the public from foodborne illnesses.” While there is a high level of norovirus illness activity in Minnesota, most cases are not associated with oysters.

Some parts of that harvest area have been closed, but it is likely that oysters from that area are still available in the marketplace. Officials are urging restaurants and distributors to check shellstock tags and discard any oysters that were harvested from that area. Consumers can ask oyster suppliers or restaurants to check the tag for the harvest location before ordering the oysters.

Norovirus and other pathogens that can be found in raw oysters are destroyed by cooking to 145°F before eating. Symptoms of norovirus typically include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramps that start 12 to 48 hours after eating food contaminated with the pathogen. This illness is usually self-limiting and most people do not require a doctor’s care or hospitalization, although dehydration can be a complication.

And this pathogen is very contagious and is spread person-to-person in addition to being spread through contaminated food and drink. MDH Epidemiologist Supervisor Senior Carlota Medus said in a statement, “The best way to limit spread is to wash your hands well with soap and water after using the bathroom and before preparing food for others.”

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