For immediate release: April 5, 2022 (22-049)
Contact: DOH Communications
OLYMPIA – The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) has updated its advisory to Washington residents to not serve or eat certain oysters harvested from the south and central parts of Baynes Sound, British Columbia, Canada until further notice. The advisory is in alignment with the recent release from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on a multi-state outbreak of norovirus illness linked to raw oysters.
Twenty-six Washington residents have reported norovirus-like illness after eating oysters from harvest areas BC 14-8 and 14-15 since March 7, 2022. Illnesses have been reported from residents of Clark, King, and Snohomish counties, though the oyster distribution may extend further into Washington state. Individuals who order oysters from a restaurant or retailer should verify the oyster source to ensure they were not harvested in British Columbia harvest areas BC 14-8 or 14-15. Retailers are being asked to stop selling the oysters.
Consuming raw or undercooked shellfish may increase your risk of foodborne illness. People who are immune compromised, such as those being treated for cancer, pregnant women, the elderly, and individuals with other chronic health conditions, are at increased risk of severe illness. Advice on handling and cooking oysters can be found on the Norovirus Outbreak Linked to Raw Oysters from British Columbia - Norovirus (cdc.gov) . They also have information about preventing Norovirus outbreaks.
Symptoms of Norovirus infection may include vomiting and/or diarrhea, nausea, muscle aches, fever, and headache. Symptoms typically start 12 to 48 hours after consumption of contaminated food and last for one to three days. Most people recover without treatment. Individuals who think they became sick after eating shellfish should speak to their physician and notify their local health jurisdiction.
People with Norovirus infection can spread the infection easily to others. To prevent others from getting sick always wash hands carefully with soap and warm water after using the bathroom or changing diapers. Clean toilets or other areas that may be soiled with stool or vomit with soap and water. Hard surfaces can be disinfected with 1/3 cup household bleach mixed with one gallon of water – always wear gloves when handling bleach-based cleaners. Wash soiled clothing and bedding in hot water and detergent. Soft surfaces that cannot be laundered can be steam cleaned.