TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The FDA has issued a warning concerning potentially contaminated raw oysters that were sent to over a dozen states. Oysters harvested in parts of Baynes Sound in British Columbia, Canada, were linked to a multi-state norovirus outbreak.
The oysters were shipped to restaurants and retailers in New York, Massachusetts, and at least 11 other states, but possibly more “through further distribution” within the U.S., the FDA said. Restaurants or retail outlets in California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, and Washington are advised to dispose of, or return, any oysters harvested in the following locations:
- Baynes Sound: #1407063, #1411206, #278737 in BC 14-8 and #1400036, in BC 14-15
The words “Baynes Sound” will also appear on tags. Restaurant operators and retailers should also sanitize any surfaces the oysters may have come into contact with. Further identifying information is available on the FDA’s website.
As of April 4, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had received 91 reports of illnesses linked to the outbreak. It’s possible the actual number of illnesses is much higher, considering many people may not seek treatment. State and local health authorities are also not required to report cases to a national database. The FDA’s ongoing investigation is working to determine where, exactly, the oysters were served or distributed based on interviews with those who became ill.
“Anyone who consumes raw shellfish is at risk of contracting norovirus,” the CDC notes. Norovirus is currently the most common cause of foodborne illness in the U.S., where it is responsible for approximately 20 million cases each year, the CDC estimates. It is largely contracted by ingesting contaminated food or water or coming into contact with contaminated surfaces or other infected persons. Symptoms include diarrhea and vomiting, among others, potentially leading to dehydration. Children, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems are more likely to experience serious illness or death as a result of infection, although people of any age are still at risk, according to the CDC.