Officials at the Washington State Department of Health advise Washington residents to not serve or eat raw oysters harvested from an area of British Columbia (BC), Canada until further notice. Eighteen Washington residents have reported norovirus-like illness after eating BC oysters from harvest area BC 14-8 since March 7.
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.
Consuming raw shellfish may increase your risk of foodborne illness. People who are immune compromised, such as those being treated for cancer, pregnant women, and individuals with other chronic health conditions, are at increased risk of severe illness. Advice on handling and cooking oysters can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website. They also have information about preventing norovirus outbreaks.
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. Individuals who think they became sick after eating raw or undercooked shellfish should speak to their physician and notify their local health jurisdiction.
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.