Two Vancouver Island shellfish farms closed after 40 cases of norovirus linked to raw oysters


WATCH: Consuming raw oysters is being linked to acute gastrointestinal sickness after 40 people fell ill and now health officials have closed two Vancouver Island shellfish farms. Dean Stoltz reports.

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 B.C. oysters.

Two shellfish farms in the Baynes Sound area between Courtenay and Deep Bay have been implicated in the illnesses and have been shut down temporarily pending lab test results from the BC Centre for Disease Control.

The centre says laboratory testing confirms the presence of norovirus in some of the cases and the illness is suspected in the rest of those who have become ill.

The exact source of the contamination has not been determined, but the Centre for Disease Control says human sewage in seawater is the most likely cause.

Over 300 cases of norovirus linked to raw or undercooked B.C. oysters were reported in B.C., Alberta and Ontario starting in late 2016 and continuing through early 2017, forcing the closure of 13 oyster farms on the B.C. coast.

That outbreak was declared over in April 2017, and the cause was determined to be sewage spread by ocean currents causing widespread contamination.

The BCCDC says it does not recommend eating raw oysters and advises the shellfish should be cooked to an internal temperature of 90 C for 90 seconds to kill pathogens.

Dean StoltzDean Stoltz

Recent Stories

Send us your news tips and videos!