The Public Health Agency of Canada has declared an outbreak of norovirus linked to the consumption of raw B.C. oysters.
The outbreak has impacted people in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario — though as of March 30, 262 of the 279 reported cases are in B.C. There have been no deaths associated with the outbreak.
Individuals became sick with norovirus after ingesting raw oysters farmed on B.C.’s west coast. Health Canada recalled certain brands of oysters that were believed to be related to the norovirus outbreak on Feb. 18, March 20, March 23, and March 27, 2022.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is continuing an investigation into the outbreak which could lead to further recalls. Any recall notices will be shared publicly.
To avoid norovirus infection from oysters, make sure they are cooked thoroughly to an internal temperature of 90 degrees celsius for 90 seconds before eating. Public health agencies do not recommend consuming raw oysters.
If you believe you became sick from consuming the recalled oysters, Health Canada recommends contacting a doctor. Anyone who believes they purchased the product should check to see if they have it in their home or business. Do not consume the recalled oysters — either throw them away or return them to the place of purchase.
When people become sick with norovirus they typically develop symptoms of gastroenteritis within 24 to 48 hours, but symptoms can start within 12 hours after exposure. Even after becoming infected with norovirus, you can become re-infected. The main symptoms include nausea, diarrhea, vomiting and stomach cramps. Other symptoms may include a low-grade fever, headaches, chills, muscle aches and fatigue.
Most people start to feel better after a day or two, however in severe cases, some patients require hospitalization. Those most at risk of severe outcomes from norovirus infection include pregnant women, people with compromised immune systems, young children and seniors.