Mississippi Area Oysters Recalled Over Norovirus IllnessMar 23, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP Oysters recently harvested from Mississippi Area 2C might be linked to about one dozen norovirus illnesses, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is reporting. The FDA is advising food service operators and retailers not to offer oysters harvested between February 23 and March 17, 2009 that were harvested from this area for sale; consumers are advised not to each such oysters.
Mississippi Area 2C is located in the Mississippi Sound portion of the Gulf of Mexico near Pass Christian, Mississippi. Those consumers who are uncertain about the origin of any oysters they currently have in their possession should contact the place of purchase to determine if the oysters originated from the affected area. Eleven individuals reported becoming sick after eating raw oysters at a restaurant in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Test results by the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department and Tennessee Department of Health confirmed that the patients were infected with norovirus.
The norovirus can cause nausea, vomiting, stomach cramping, fever, headaches, chills, muscle ache, tiredness, and diarrhea; in general, children experience more vomiting than adults. The norovirus strikes quickly, but generally only lasts for one or two days, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia. Sometimes people also develop a low-grade fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, and a general sense of tiredness. The illness often begins suddenly, and the infected person may feel very sick. There is no cure for the norovirus and patients sometimes need to be given fluids intravenously to combat the dehydration caused by frequent vomiting and diarrhea.
Norovirus is not one, but actually a group of viruses that are found in the stool or vomit of infected people. Norovirus spreads easily and quickly with people becoming infected when eating food or drinking liquids contaminated with norovirus; touching surfaces or objects contaminated with norovirus, and then placing their hand in their mouth; or having direct contact with another person infected and showing symptoms, for example, when caring for someone with illness, or sharing foods or eating utensils with someone who is ill, warns the CDC.
The FDA is advising those with weakened immune systems, including patients affected by AIDS, chronic alcohol abuse, liver, stomach or blood disorders, cancer, diabetes, or kidney disease to avoid raw oyster consumption altogether, regardless of where the oysters are harvested.
Retailers and food service operators can check the tag or labeling that should accompany all raw molluscan shellfish, to verify its origin. Individuals who have eaten raw oysters harvested from the affected area during the specified dates and have experienced symptoms of norovirus infection are encouraged to contact their healthcare provider and their local health department.
The Mississippi Department of Marine Resources closed Area 2C to harvesting on March 17, 2009, to protect the public health. The FDA reported that it is working with the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources to investigate potential sources of pollution that may have caused the area to become contaminated, is testing oysters harvested from the area, and will continue to provide updates as this investigation unfolds.