Officials at the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have issued an advisory that warns about potential contamination of oysters harvested from Deep Bay harvest area BC 14-8 in British Columbia, Canada. Consumers and retailers are warned to not eat or serve raw oysters harvested from this area due to potential contamination with norovirus.
The FDA alert says they are working with federal, state and local officials along with Canadian public health authorities on a norovirus outbreak linked to raw oysters from British Columbia, Canada.
Currently, illnesses have only been reported in Canada with no known cases of norovirus associated with these oysters reported in the US. The FDA is alerting restaurants, retailers and consumers because it is possible that states received these oysters through distribution to the US.
Contaminated shellfish can cause illness if eaten raw, particularly in people with compromised immune systems. Food contaminated with norovirus may look, smell, and taste normal.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) reported receiving multiple reports of illness linked to the Deep Bay area in Subarea 14-8.
Individuals who order raw oysters from a restaurant should ensure they were not harvested from harvest area BC 14-8. Oysters from harvest area BC 14-8 should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145°F for 15 seconds to kill potential norovirus.
Symptoms of Norovirus infection may include vomiting and/or diarrhea, nausea, muscle aches, fever, and headache. Symptoms typically start 12 to 48 hours after consumption and can last for one to three days. Most people recover without treatment.
People with Norovirus infection can spread the infection easily to others. To prevent others from getting sick always wash hands carefully with soap and warm water after using the bathroom or changing diapers. Use soap and water to clean toilets or other areas that may be soiled with stool or vomit. Hard surfaces can be disinfected with 1/3 cup household bleach mixed with one gallon of water – always wear gloves when handling bleach-based cleaners. Wash soiled clothing and bedding in hot water and detergent. Soft surfaces that cannot be laundered can be steam cleaned.
Whatcom County residents who think they became sick after eating raw or undercooked shellfish should speak to their physician and notify officials at the Whatcom County Health Department.
A similar situation was reported last year in April which also involved oysters from Deep Bay harvest area BC 14-8.