California reports 100 ill in outbreak traced to raw oysters

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Raw oysters from British Columbia, Canada, have sickened more than 100 people in California and has been linked to a norovirus outbreak.

The California Department of Public Health released a report noting that the 100 cases were recorded in California as of April 27 and applied to residents who had eaten raw British Columbian oysters that were sold by restaurants and retailers across the state.

Almost 200 cases of gastrointestinal issues linked to consumption of raw oysters were reported in Canada. The officials have said that although the number of illnesses caused due to the oyster consumption is declining, the investigation is still being carried out.

Raw oysters can cause illness in anyone, but they are particularly risky for young children, older adults, pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems.

Four oyster farms in the south and central Baynes Sound area of British Columbia that were linked to illnesses were closed between March 23 and April 13, 2018, and remain closed at this time. "It added that lab analysis has identified that an uncommon type of norovirus is involved", according to the CIDRAP statement. FDA has confirmed that potentially contaminated oysters harvested in parts of BC were distributed to the US, specifically California, Illinois, Massachusetts, and Washington. To be safe, seafood must be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 145 degrees.

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Canada's Public Health Agency advises that oysters should be fully cooked in order to kill norovirus - partially cooking will not solve the problem.

Symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting and stomach cramps.

It warned that oysters harvested from several locations in Baynes Sound, B.C., should not be sold, distributed or eaten. It spreads easily through food and drink, and symptoms can be seen 12 to 48 hours after the infection. Diarrhea is more common in adults and vomiting is more common in children. Foods contaminated with noroviruses may still look, smell, and taste normal.

The FDA and CDC recommend doctor's consultation if any person, who consumed raw oysters, suffer from diarrhea for more than three days, or it is accompanied by high fever, blood in the stool, or vomiting.

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