California health officials warn of possible illness from raw oysters

Norovirus image by Charles D. Humphrey, USCDCP on

published on April 4, 2022 – 10:19 AM
Written by Associated Press

At least 34 people statewide have contracted norovirus in the past few weeks in California after eating raw oysters harvested in British Columbia, Canada, state health officials said Saturday.

The state Department of Health issued a warning not to eat raw oysters imported from British Columbia where officials have closed multiple growing regions for sanitary contamination.

In California, people who ate oysters at nine restaurants throughout the state between March 11 and March 19 reported getting ill. Illnesses associated with oysters from British Columbia have also been reported in other U.S. states, the department said.

Despite issuing multiple recalls of oysters from British Columbia, the health department said it has continued receiving reports of people getting ill. It advised restaurants and retailers to check their inventory and shellfish tags to ensure that potentially contaminated raw oysters are not available for purchase, and to discard any leftover contaminated oysters.

Restaurants and retailers can protect customers by checking their inventory and shellfish tags, ensuring that potentially contaminated raw oysters are not available for purchase, and discarding any leftover contaminated product. Oysters with tags from the following landfile numbers have been recalled: CLF #278741, CLF #278757, CLF #278737, and CLF #1411206. Oysters harvested from CLF #1407063 have not been recalled to date but the growing area was closed due to sanitary contamination.

Anyone who becomes ill after eating raw oysters should contact their health care provider as well as report their illness to their local health department.

“Avoid eating raw and undercooked shellfish, including oysters, to reduce your risk of illness,” said Dr. Tomás J. Aragón, CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer. “If you do eat shellfish, cook it until it reaches an internal temperature of at least 145°F. Quick steaming isn’t sufficient to kill norovirus.”

Canada has reported more than 270 cases of gastrointestinal illness linked to the consumption of raw oysters.

Norovirus is contagious and causes inflammation of the stomach and intestines. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea and fever.

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