In a follow-up to the multi-province gastrointestinal illness outbreak in Canada, The Public Health Agency of Canada has reported an additional 46 cases linked to consumption of raw oysters as of Friday.
The national investigation in British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario has shown the total case count has risen to 267 clinical cases of gastrointestinal illness linked to oysters. The breakdown includes: British Columbia (179), Alberta (40), and Ontario (48). No deaths have been reported. Individuals became sick between December 2016 and February 2017. All individuals who became ill reported having eaten oysters.
Although not all cases of illness have been tested, testing of several cases has confirmed the presence of norovirus infection. It is suspected that norovirus illness, caused by consumption of contaminated oysters, is the cause of illness in the untested cases. The outbreak investigation is ongoing.
The Public Health Agency of Canada says food contaminated with noroviruses may look, smell and taste normal. The following safe food handling practices will reduce your risk of getting sick:
- Ensure oysters are fully cooked before consuming them. It is recommended to cook oysters to an internal temperature of 90° Celsius (194° Fahrenheit) for a minimum of 90 seconds.
- Discard any oysters that do not open when cooked.
- Eat oysters right away after cooking and refrigerate leftovers.
- Always keep raw and cooked oysters separate.
- Wash your hands well with soap before handling any food. Be sure to wash your hands, cutting boards, counters, knives and other utensils after preparing raw foods.