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Norovirus warning issued after symptoms detected

Vancouver Coastal Health is warning residents and restaurants that eating raw oysters may lead to some unwanted side effects.

The warning comes after more than 50 have been affected with acute gastrointestinal illness since March 14. They say people were experiencing stomach pain, diarrhea or vomiting after eating raw oysters.

Lab testing found the presence of norovirus in some cases but it’s expected to be in others as well. The virus can have the following symptoms:

  • Nausea
  • Cramping
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Symptoms usually occur within 12 to 48 hours of eating a contaminated oyster.

VCH recommends against eating the shellfish raw. A notice was sent out to restaurants and retailers to advise them of the risk.

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Certain areas are being closed because of the risk.

“Based on an investigation by the BCCDC, local and federal agencies, and the shellfish industry, affected harvest areas are being closed and will reopen when contamination is cleared,” read a notice from the health authority.

Cooking oysters to safely kill norovirus requires an internal temperature of 90 C. That temperature needs to be held for 90 seconds before being safe to eat.

The authority asks anyone experiencing these symptoms after eating an oyster to call BC Healthlink at 811 and get medical assistance if things get worse.

Oyster-related illnesses should be reported to VCH for investigation by calling 604-675-3800.

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