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Albertans warned about eating raw shellfish after cases of illness in Edmonton

Oysters harvested from B.C. coastal waters on or before Aug. 18, and intended for raw consumption, have been recalled by Health Canada.
Oysters harvested from B.C. coastal waters on or before Aug. 18, and intended for raw consumption, have been recalled by Health Canada. Phil Sears / File / AP Photo

Alberta Health Services (AHS) is reminding Albertans about the risks of eating raw shellfish after an investigation was launched into 10 cases of gastrointestinal illness linked to the consumption of raw oysters in Edmonton.

AHS said those involved in the Edmonton cases started experiencing symptoms between Jan. 10 and 12. The exact type of illness hasn’t been lab-confirmed.

READ MORE: BCCDC warns about first illness linked to consumption of raw oysters

AHS has a list of tips to reduce the risk of illness:

  • Eat only properly cooked shellfish. Cooking will decrease the risk of illness and it is recommended to avoid eating any raw or undercooked shellfish.
  • Specific to oysters, cook to an internal temperature of 90 C for 90 seconds.
  • Discard any shellfish that do not open when cooked.
  • Eat shellfish right away after cooking and promptly refrigerate leftovers.
  • Keep raw and cooked shellfish separate.
  • Keep purchased shellfish cold. Refrigerate immediately after purchase and keep at temperatures below 4 C.
  • Wear protective clothing (such as gloves) and wash your hands both before handling any food and frequently while handling raw shellfish.
  • Sanitize cutting boards, counters, knives and other utensils after preparing raw foods.
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The primary symptoms associated with eating raw shellfish contaminated with viruses or bacteria are diarrhea and abdominal cramps.  Nausea, vomiting, fever, headache and bloody stool are other symptoms that can happened when ill.

READ MORE: BC Centre for Disease Control issues public warning about oyster illness

Albertans who develop these symptoms within two days of eating raw shellfish are advised to contact Health Link at 811.

Typically, symptoms last one day to a week and don’t require treatment, but anyone whose symptoms last longer or become more severe should visit a doctor.

This is the first outbreak investigation into illness possibly connected to raw oysters in the province since 2015, when 19 cases of Vibrio parahaemolyticus infection were linked to the consumption of raw oysters.

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