Raw oysters sold in 13 states linked to norovirus outbreak

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The Food and Drug Administration has issued a warning about potentially contaminated raw oysters that have been shipped to more than a dozen states.

This week, the FDA announced that oysters harvested from parts of Baynes Sound in British Columbia, Canada, were possibly linked to an outbreak of norovirus in several states in the United States. The oysters were shipped to restaurants and retailers in at least 13 states, but possibly more “through additional distribution” in the United States, writes the FDA.

It is recommended for restaurants or outlets in California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, Oregon, of Texas and Washington to discard or return harvested oysters to the following locations:

  • Baynes Sound: #1407063, #1411206, #278737 in BC 14-8 and #1400036, in BC 14-15

The words “Baynes Sound” will also appear on the labels. Other identifying information is available on the FDA website.

Restaurant owners and retailers are also asked to disinfect all surfaces that oysters may have come into contact with.

As of April 4, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had received 91 reports of illnesses linked to the outbreak. It is possible that the true number of illnesses is much higher, since many people do not seek treatment. State and local health authorities are also not required to report cases to a national database.

The ongoing FDA investigation is working to determine where, exactly, the oysters were served or distributed based on interviews with those who fell ill.

Norovirus is currently the most common cause of foodborne illness in the United States, where it is responsible for about 20 million cases each year, according to CDC estimates. It is largely contracted by ingesting contaminated food or water, or coming into contact with contaminated surfaces or other infected people. Symptoms include diarrhea and vomiting, among others, which can lead to dehydration. Children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems are more likely to suffer from serious illness or die from infection, although people of all ages are still at risk, according to the CDC.

“Anyone who eats raw shellfish is at risk of contracting norovirus,” the agency notes.

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