Foodborne Illnesses / Norovirus /

CDC now reports Norovirus Oyster Outbreak growing - 192 ill in United States

The CDC is working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) state, and local officials, and with Canadian public health authorities to investigate a multistate norovirus outbreak linked to raw oysters from British Columbia, Canada.

As of June 1, 2022, 192 norovirus illnesses have been reported from 13 states: the CDC is working with state and local partners to determine a more accurate number of illnesses in this outbreak and will update this number as more information is gathered. The FDA has confirmed that the contaminated oysters were distributed to restaurants and retailers in CA, CO, FL, HI, IL, MA, MN, NJ, NV, NY, OR, TX, and WA. Restaurants and Retailers are advised by the FDA to Not Serve or Sell Potentially Contaminated Raw Oysters from Canada.

States affected: California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Texas and Washington. The number of illnesses is an estimate based on information the CDC has at this time. The CDC is partnering with sate and local officials to determine the accurate number of illnesses related to this outbreak and will update the data as more information is gathered.

Norovirus is the leading cause of foodborne illness in the United States. However, state, local, and territorial health departments are not required to report individual cases of norovirus illness to a national surveillance system. That’s why we may not know about many cases, especially if people do not go to a doctor’s office or hospital. Each year, there are about 2,500 reported norovirus outbreaks in the United States. Norovirus outbreaks occur throughout the year but are most common from November to April.

State and local public health officials are interviewing people about the foods they ate a day to four days before they got sick. In interviews, many of the sick people reported eating raw oysters.

State and local officials have collected information about the source of oysters from restaurants where sick people ate. FDA has confirmed that potentially contaminated raw oysters were harvested in the south and central parts of Baynes Sound, British Columbia, Canada. The FDA and the states are conducting a trace forward investigation to determine where the raw oysters were distributed and to ensure they’re removed from the food supply.

Canada reports: As of April 28, 2022, there have been 339 cases of norovirus and gastrointestinal illness linked to consumption of British Columbia oysters reported in the following provinces: British Columbia (301), Alberta (3), Saskatchewan (1), Manitoba (15) and Ontario (19). Individuals became sick between mid-January and early April 2022, and no deaths have been reported. Although not all cases of illness have been tested, testing of several cases has confirmed the presence of a norovirus infection. Illnesses occurred between mid-January and early April 2022, and no deaths were reported.

Some oyster harvest areas in B.C. that have been associated with illnesses in this outbreak have been closed as a part of the investigation. Food recalls were conducted on February 18, March 20, March 23, and March 27, 2022 for oysters from B.C. For more information on the recalled products, please consult the Government of Canada’s Recalls and Safety Alerts website.

The CFIA is continuing its food safety investigation, which may lead to the recall of other products. If other products are recalled, the CFIA will notify the public through updated food recall warnings.

Acute gastrointestinal illnesses such as norovirus illness are common in North America and are very contagious, affecting all age groups. However, pregnant women, people with compromised immune systems, young children and the elderly are at risk for developing more serious complications, like dehydration.

People with norovirus illness usually develop symptoms of gastroenteritis within 24 to 48 hours, but symptoms can start as early as 12 hours after exposure. The illness often begins suddenly. Even after having the illness, you can still become re-infected by norovirus.

The main symptoms of norovirus illness are:

  • diarrhea
  • vomiting (children usually experience more vomiting than adults)
  • nausea
  • stomach cramps

Other symptoms may include:

  • low-grade fever
  • headache
  • chills
  • muscle aches
  • fatigue (a general sense of tiredness)

Most people feel better within one or two days, with symptoms resolving on their own, and experience no long-term health effects. As with any illness causing diarrhea or vomiting, people who are ill should drink plenty of liquids to replace lost body fluids and prevent dehydration. In severe cases, patients may need to be hospitalized and given fluids intravenously. If you have severe symptoms of norovirus, consult your healthcare provider.

The Public Health Agency of Canada is collaborating with federal and provincial public health partners to investigate an outbreak of norovirus and gastrointestinal illnesses involving four provinces: British Columbia (B.C.), Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario.

Based on the investigation findings to date, the outbreak is linked to consumption of raw oysters from B.C. Some oyster harvesting areas in B.C. that have been associated with illnesses in this outbreak have been closed as a part of the investigation. These closures aim to prevent further illness.

Food recalls were conducted on February 18, March 20, March 23, and March 27, 2022 for oysters from B.C. Links to each food recall associated with this investigation can be found at the end of this public health notice. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is continuing its food safety investigation, which may lead to the recall of other products. If other products are recalled, the CFIA will notify the public through updated food recall warnings.

Do not eat, use, sell, or serve the recalled oysters.

Also, avoid eating raw or undercooked oysters to reduce your risk of foodborne illness and follow proper food handling practices. Cook oysters to an internal temperature of 90° Celsius (194° Fahrenheit) for a minimum of 90 seconds.

The outbreak investigation is ongoing and additional actions to protect public health will be taken as needed. This public health notice will be updated as the investigation evolves.

Minnesota Area Norovirus Outbreak: The Minnesota Department of Health, Hennepin County Public Health, and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture are working with federal officials and public health agencies in other states and Canada to investigate norovirus illnesses associated with oysters harvested from Bay 14-8 in British Columbia.

Twenty-nine Minnesotans have been sickened in this outbreak. They became ill with confirmed or suspected norovirus gastroenteritis after eating raw oysters at Travail Kitchen in Robbinsdale on March 20. The oysters served were Stellar Bay Gold oysters harvested on March 10 from Deep Bay 14-8 CLF #140706 in British Columbia, Canada.

“Travail Kitchen quickly brought the cases to our attention, and immediately stopped serving oysters,” said Duane Hudson, Hennepin County Public Health, Environmental Health manager. “We are grateful to Travail for their help in protecting the public from foodborne illnesses.”

While some parts of the harvest area have been closed, it is likely that oysters from this area are still in the marketplace. With that in mind, officials are urging restaurants and distributors to check shellstock tags and discard oysters from this harvest area. Consumers can ask oyster suppliers or restaurants to check the shellstock tag for the harvest location. Norovirus and other pathogens found in raw oysters can be destroyed by cooking to 145 degrees Fahrenheit before eating.

Symptoms of norovirus typically include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or stomach cramps that begin 12 to 48 hours after ingestion of the virus. There is currently a high level of norovirus illness activity in Minnesota, and most is not associated with eating oysters.

“People with norovirus can spread it to others even after symptoms stop,” MDH Epidemiologist Supervisor Senior Carlota Medus said. “The best way to limit spread is to wash your hands well with soap and water after using the bathroom and before preparing food for others.”

Seattle Area Norovirus Outbreak: Public Health routinely reports the illnesses to Washington State Department of Health (DOH) Shellfish Program, which is responsible for tracking the harvest locations of the oysters implicated in these illnesses. Multiple illnesses tracked to a common growing area may result in the closure of implicated harvest locations or other enforcement actions.

Restaurant/venue/vendorMeal dateNumber illSuspected organism
Elliott’s Oyster House
1201 Alaskan Way Pier 56, Seattle
The Pink Door
1919 Post Alley, Seattle
The Pink Door
1919 Post Alley, Seattle
Enzo’s Bistro & Bar
120 NW Gilman Blvd, Issaquah
Taylor Shellfish
124 Republican St, Seattle
Enzo’s Bistro & Bar
120 NW Gilman Blvd, Issaquah
The Pink Door
1919 Post Alley, Seattle
Goldfinch Tavern at Four Seasons Hotel
99 Union St, Seattle
Goldfinch Tavern at Four Seasons Hotel
99 Union St, Seattle
Shucker’s at Fairmont Olympic Hotel
411 University St, Seattle
Ivar’s Acres of Clams
1001 Alaskan Way Ste. 102, Seattle
Taylor Shellfish
1521 Melrose Ave, Seattle

California Area Norovirus Outbreak: The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) warned consumers April 2, 2022, not to eat raw oysters from British Columbia, Canada because they may be linked to an outbreak of norovirus illnesses in California. In California, at least 34 persons have become ill following the consumption of oysters at nine restaurants located throughout the state. Illness has been reported from March 11 through 19, 2022.

Hawaii Area Norovirus Outbreak: Hawaiian Health officials are warning the public of a norovirus outbreak linked to raw oysters from Canada that were distributed to restaurants and retailers in various U.S. states, including Hawaii, where several cases have been confirmed. The Hawaii Department of Health said as of late Tuesday, there have been four suspect cases of norovirus associated with raw oysters reported in the state. Three of the four suspect cases consumed raw oysters in Hawaii County, and one consumed raw oysters in Honolulu County, between March 8 and 22. All of the suspected cases in Hawaii have since recovered. Once case, however, required hospitalization

Norovirus: Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Norovirus outbreaks. The Norovirus lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Norovirus and other foodborne illness outbreaks and have recovered over $800 million for clients. Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation. Our Norovirus lawyers have litigated Norovirus cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a number of food products and restaurants.

If you or a family member became ill with Norovirus after consuming food and you’re interested in pursuing a legal claim, contact the Marler Clark Norovirus attorneys for a free case evaluation.

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