The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says they are working with federal, state, and local officials regarding a norovirus outbreak linked to raw oysters from British Columbia. The FDA confirmed potentially contaminated raw oysters harvested in the south and central parts of Baynes Sound, BC, were distributed to resellers in California, Illinois, Massachusetts and Washington. It is possible that additional states received these oysters either directly from Canada or after passing through additional distributors within the US.
According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, a total of 172 cases of gastrointestinal illness linked to oyster consumption have been reported across the provinces of BC, Alberta and Ontario. Individuals became sick between mid-March and mid-April 2018. No deaths have been reported.
Consumers are advised not to eat any raw oysters from the locations listed above. If you have any of the listed products, they should be discarded and any counters, containers and utensils they came in contact with thoroughly cleaned.
Restaurants and retailers are being asked not to sell or serve raw oysters harvested from the following harvest locations within Baynes Sound: #1402060, #1411206, #1400483, and #278757 and other potentially affected raw oysters.
The FDA warns, “Oysters can cause food-related illness if eaten raw, particularly in people with compromised immune systems. Food contaminated with noroviruses may look, smell, and taste normal.”
Most people infected with Norovirus develop diarrhea, vomiting, nausea and stomach pain. Diarrhea tends to be watery and non-bloody. Diarrhea is more common in adults and vomiting is more common in children. Symptoms can appear 12 to 48 hours after infection.
Anyone who thinks they might have become ill from eating possibly contaminated raw oysters should talk to their healthcare provider.