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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Oyster Linked Norovirus Slams Pacific Northwest

3865Food Safety News reported that the consumption of raw or undercooked oysters from British Columbia is blamed for 321 cases of norovirus gastroenteritis in three Canadian provinces, according to an updated report from the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), released March 27. The outbreak, which has affected residents of British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario, began in December 2016 and is on-going.

As of March 28’s update, 321 clinical cases of gastroenteritis linked to oysters had been reported between Dec. 4, 2016, and March 18, this year: 223 in British Columbia, 42 in Alberta and 56 in Ontario.

According to a spokesperson from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), seven shellfish aquaculture sites have been temporarily closed by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. The closures are based on sample results and/or epidemiological assessments. Investigation is on-going into other harvest areas that have been linked to illnesses.

Seattle-King County Public Health is investigating a series of illnesses associated with consumption of oysters harvested along the Washington coast. Between Jan.  10 and March 20, as many as 39 people may have become ill after eating raw oysters at one of several different restaurants or private events in the county.

No laboratory confirmation is available; however, these symptoms are ‘suggestive’ of norovirus, according to a March 28 news release issued by the health department. While oysters served at the retail locations were harvested from various areas along the Washington coast, one small part of Samish Bay accounted for 22 illnesses linked to four servings. A section of the Samish Bay growing area was closed on March 17 for all species.