Norovirus Outbreak Associated with Raw Oysters in British Columbia

Norovirus outbreak closes two British Columbia oyster farms

Norovirus outbreak closes two British Columbia oyster farms

Those who eat raw oysters and experience these symptoms are advised to contact HealthLink BC at 811 and see their doctor if the symptoms linger or get worse.

Health officials in British Columbia have closed two oyster farms amid an investigation into another outbreak of norovirus linked to the consumption of raw oysters.

According to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, about 40 cases of acute gastrointestinal illness have been reported since March 18.

Norovirus is a highly contagious cause of gastroenteritis and can be spread by contaminated foods, beverages, countertops and other hard surfaces, and person-to-person. Lab testing has confirmed that the pathogen responsible for some of those cases is norovirus.

While the precise sources of contamination have not been identified, human sewage in the marine environment is now believed to be the most plausible cause of shellfish contamination, according to BCCDC epidemiologist Marsha Taylor.

A norovirus outbreak from raw oysters was declared finished as of April 2017, after 347 cases were reported in B.C., Alberta and Ontario from early 2016 to late 2017. This is not the first norovirus outbreak associated with raw oysters in Canada.

The BCCDC says consumption of raw oysters is not encouraged and consumers are advised to cook oysters thoroughly to an internal temperature of 90 degrees Celsius for 90 seconds. Oysters are filter feeders - they take up water and filter out nutrients.

Symptoms of norovirus include abdominal pain, diarrhea and vomiting.

The BCCDC says people normally recover from norovirus on their own with hydration and rest, but severe dehydration requiring medical attention can happen on rare occasions. Oyster-related illnesses can also be reported to your local health authority.

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