Oyster recall: Norovirus outbreak linked to Vancouver Island spreads to U.S.

Oyster recall: Norovirus outbreak linked to Vancouver Island spreads to U.S.
(Rafferty Baker/CBC)
File photo.

A norovirus outbreak traced back to Vancouver Island-harvested oysters that has spread to several provinces has also led to dozens of illnesses across the United States, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control.

As of Monday, the U.S. CDC recorded at least 91 norovirus illnesses in 13 states, a number expected to grow as the health authority investigates the outbreak with state and local partners.

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

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has confirmed those illnesses are linked to oysters harvested in the south and central parts of Baynes Sound just off southern Vancouver Island.

Companies whose products are affected by recalls include Stellar Bay Shellfish, Taylor Shellfish, Pacific Rim Shellfish and Daily Fresh Shellfish.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has reported 279 associated illnesses as of March 31, including 262 in B.C., 15 in Ontario, one in Alberta and one in Saskatchewan.

There have been no reported hospitalizations or deaths linked to the outbreak.

Anyone who comes across the recalled oysters is asked not to eat, use, sell or serve them. The CFIA also recommends people avoid eating raw or undercooked oysters to reduce their risk of foodborne illness, advising oysters be cooked to an internal temperature of 90 degrees Celsius, or 194 degrees Fahrenheit, for a minimum of 90 seconds.

Jeff LawrenceJeff Lawrence

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