Vancouver – The BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) is warning raw shellfish consumers to take steps to protect their health following an increase in cases of norovirus associated with consumption of raw BC oysters.
Since early March 2018, approximately 40 cases of acute gastrointestinal illness have been reported to public health authorities in BC. All of the ill people reported consuming raw BC oysters. Laboratory testing has confirmed the presence of norovirus in some of the cases and it is suspected in the others. The investigation is ongoing.
In order to kill norovirus and other pathogens, the BCCDC recommends consumers cook oysters thoroughly, to an internal temperature of 90˚C (degrees Celsius) for 90 seconds. Consumption of raw oysters is not encouraged.
Two oyster farms implicated in the outbreak have been closed by federal authorities.
In late 2016 and early 2017, 347 norovirus outbreak cases associated with raw or undercooked BC oysters were reported in BC, Alberta and Ontario. The outbreak was declared over in April, 2017. Learn more in the BCCDC’s Annual Summary of Reportable Diseases
, under Norovirus
While the precise sources of contamination have not been identified, human sewage in the marine environment is currently believed to be the most plausible cause of shellfish contamination.
Anyone becoming ill with diarrhea and vomiting after eating shellfish should call BC HealthLink at 811. If symptoms are severe or persist, they should see their physician. Oyster-related illness can be reported to your local health authority for investigation and follow-up.
For most people, norovirus is a self-limiting illness and people will recover on their own with proper hydration and rest. On rare occasions, dehydration may be severe and require medical attention.
Learn more about Norovirus:
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The BC Centre for Disease Control, an agency of the Provincial Health Services Authority, provides public health leadership through surveillance, detection, treatment, prevention and consultation services. The Centre provides diagnostic and treatment services for people with diseases of public health importance, and analytical and policy support to all levels of government and health authorities. The BCCDC also provides health promotion and prevention services to reduce the burden of chronic disease and preventable injury. For more, visit www.bccdc.ca or follow us on Twitter @CDCofBC.
The Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) plans, manages and evaluates selected specialty and province-wide health care services across BC, working with the five geographic health authorities to deliver province-wide solutions that improve the health of British Columbians. For more information, visit www.phsa.ca or follow us on Twitter @PHSAofBC.
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