Hundreds of Canadians across several provinces have contracted the norovirus infection after consuming B.C. oysters.
As of Feb. 14, 221 people have fallen ill – including 159 cases in B.C., 36 in Alberta and 26 cases in Ontario – after eating raw or undercooked oysters. The Public Health Agency of Canada is now investigating the case along with federal and provincial health partners.
The health agency says consumers can avoid getting sick by cooking their oysters to an internal temperature of 90 C or 194 F for a minimum of 90 seconds. Proper hand washing and food safety practices are also advised.
Ontario’s acting Chief Medical Officer of Health first warned of the issue earlier this month after 24 cases of gastrointestinal illness were detected since January consistent in people who reported eating raw or undercooked oysters.
Public Health Canada says food contaminated with noroviruses may look, smell and taste normal. After contracting the illness, symptoms may include diarrhea, vomiting, nausea and stomach cramps. A low-grade fever, headache, chills, muscle aches and fatigue may also be present.
Symptoms usually last one or two days.