Norovirus Outbreak Linked to Raw B.C. Oysters
In August, 2016 the CDC estimated that 48 million people get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die from foodborne diseases annually in the United States.
The FDA has warned that “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.” The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released information that they are working with federal, state, and local officials to investigate a norovirus outbreak linked to raw oysters from British Columbia in May, 2018. The FDA has established that possibly contaminated raw oysters harvested in the south and central parts of Baynes Sound, BC, were sold to resellers in California, Illinois, Massachusetts and Washington and possibly other states.
Norovirus outbreak linked to raw B.C. oysters
The Public Health Agency of Canada has recorded a total of 172 non-fatal cases of gastrointestinal illness caused by oyster consumption across the provinces of BC, Alberta and Ontario. The individuals became sick between mid-March and mid-April 2018.
Consumers have been advised to not eat any raw oysters from B.C. sold to the states listed in the report, to throw away any oysters purchased in those states and to sanitize any containers, counter tops, cutting boards and utensils that came into contact with these oysters.
Restaurants and retailers are being asked to stop selling or serving raw oysters harvested from the following harvest locations within Baynes Sound: #1402060, #1411206, #1400483, and #278757 and other affected raw oysters.
Gastrointestinal shellfish poisoning
Shellfish poisoning occurs when a person eats shellfish contaminated with bacteria or, more often, viruses. Contaminated shellfish include shrimp, crabs, clams, oysters, dried fish, and salted raw fish; they may or may not have a spoiled smell or taste.
Gastrointestinal shellfish poisoning symptoms
Gastrointestinal shellfish poisoning symptoms include nausea/vomiting, stomach pain/cramping and diarrhea. While diarrhea is a more common symptom in adults, vomiting is more common in children. Symptoms can present 12 to 48 hours after infection. A person who has blood in the stool combined with a fever may have a bacterial infection.
How to treat shellfish poisoning symptoms
- Do not try to force vomiting.
- Keep well-hydrated with frequent sips of clear fluids.
- If signs of dehydration present because nausea and vomiting cannot be controlled, seek medical care as IV fluids may be necessary.
- Note that antibiotics are only helpful for persons with a bacterial infection but Pepto-Bismol may be used to help control diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach cramps.
Should I seek medical care for the norovirus or shellfish poisoning?
Any person who is not able to tolerate oral fluids, has a high fever, blood in their stool or other concerning symptoms should seek medical care right away.
If you or a loved has become sick from possibly contaminated raw oysters please contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible or call the American Association of Poison Control Centers at (800) 222-1222.
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