Raw is risky: 12 sick from Norovirus linked to oysters, prompting shellfish harvest closure and recall

 JoNel Aleccia of the Seattle Times writes that Washington state health officials have ordered an emergency harvest closure and a multistate recall of all shellfish from a portion of Mason County’s Hammersley Inlet after at least a dozen people who ate raw oysters became ill.

oystersNorovirus is suspected in the illnesses reported last month; laboratory tests confirmed the infection in two people, health officials said.

The recall announced Thursday includes nearly 4,000 dozen oysters and nearly 3,000 pounds of Manila clams from the area processed from Nov. 10 to Dec. 5.

Health officials used the state’s shellfish-tracking system, which tags commercially harvested shellfish with location and dates, to identify the problem.

In Massachusetts, a man who nearly died in 2011 from Vibrio after eating raw Cape Cod oysters will have his civil suit heard in Hampshire Superior Court.

Raw oystersJohn W. Roy claims the defendants were negligent in their handling of the oysters, and failed to warn him of the dangers of Vibrio contamination in oysters harvested and sold in Massachusetts. The oysters served at Chapin’s came from the East Dennis Oyster Farm, who in turn procured oysters from Avery, Roy maintains.

The Roys seek compensatory damages and have demanded a jury trial.

The Massachusetts Dept. of Marine Fisheries in 2012 issued a Vibrio Control Plan for parts of the Cape, which required that oysters be kept on ice after harvest and that good records and a clear chain of custody be maintained. The program was expanded to cover the entire state in 2013.