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42 cases of norovirus illnesses related to raw oyster consumption sparks AHS warning

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

Raw oysters were behind more than 40 reported illnesses in Alberta, and now the province’s health agency is reminding people to make sure their seafood is fully cooked before it’s consumed.

A total of 42 Albertans were diagnosed with an outbreak of a gastrointestinal illness related to eating raw oysters from B.C.

The outbreak was first investigated by the Public Health Agency of Canada in February after more than 200 cases of illnesses were linked to consuming raw oysters. The agency declared the outbreak over on May 11, but AHS continues to remind people in the province to take precautions with seafood.

READ MORE: Got norovirus? 5 things you need to know about the ‘winter vomiting bug’

AHS recommends only eating oysters that have been cooked to an internal temperature of 90 C, throwing away any shellfish that did not open when cooked, and keeping raw and cooked shellfish separate.

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Sanitizing all utensils used while preparing any raw foods, and frequently washing hands during food preparation can also help lower the risk of illness.

Consuming raw or under-cooked oysters or shellfish can cause diarrhea, cramps and vomiting. Anyone who experiences these symptoms within 10 to 50 hours after eating shellfish should contact Health Link at 8-1-1 to report the illness, and visit a doctor if the symptoms worsen or continue for more than one week.

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