Raw is risky: At least 44 sick in California from Norovirus in raw oysters

The California Department of Public Health has closed Tomales Bay to oyster harvesting due to a norovirus outbreak associated with the oysters.

Dr. Matt Willis, Marin County’s public health officer, said the closure was issued on Jan. 3. and on the following day the state health department issued a recall order on Tomales Bay oysters that had been sold to 34 restaurants by Hog Island Oyster Co., based in Marshall.

“There were 44 confirmed cases of norovirus between Dec. 29 and Jan. 5 across the Bay Area,” Willis said. “Only seven of those 44 cases were Marin cases.”

Willis said there is no concern in this case that the outbreak is related to food handling, cultivation or harvesting practices.

“It’s likely this represents contamination of the water itself,” he said. “The water testing showed high levels of bacterial and viral contamination, which is normal following high rainfall over a long interval.”

Willis said it is unusual for a norovirus outbreak to be linked to oysters. He said there are typically about 20 norovirus outbreaks every year in Marin County, and they usually occur in places where people congregate in close quarters such as schools or nursing homes.

What bullshit.

There are plenty of Norovirus-related raw oyster outbreaks throughout the world weekly.

Maybe not in Marin County, Matt, but globally, yes.

Raw is risky: Longtime North Dakota lawmaker dies after eating raw oysters in New Orleans

The New Orleans Advocate reports that former longtime Mandan Republican state Rep. Rae Ann Kelsch has died.

Alex Kelsch says his mother died early Tuesday morning at a New Orleans hospital from a bacterial infection caused by eating raw oysters at a restaurant there. She was 58.

Kelsch died after becoming infected with Vibrio vulnificus, which is linked to oysters, according to the Bismarck Tribune.

Kelsch was first elected to the North Dakota House in 1990 and served 22 years, including as the chairwoman of the Education Committee.

She was defeated in the 2012 primary, after it came to light she didn’t file state income tax returns for seven years.

Kelsch’s husband, Thomas, a lawyer, said at the time that he was to blame for the tax problems. The couple said the tax bill was eventually paid.

Raw is risky: Oysters suspected as jury awards couple $6.7 million in Tampa food poisoning

Jonathan Capriel of Tampa Bay reports a jury awarded a couple $6.7 million after they got sick from eating seafood at a Tampa restaurant. The verdict came in May, years after the husband’s illness led to a rare disorder that causes paralysis and nerve damage.

Angel Martinez and his wife Maria Elena Martinez had eaten 10 times earlier at Lobster Haven, 12807 W Hillsborough Ave., when they sat down Dec. 21, 2013, for their usual — two three-pound lobsters and a dozen Bluepoint oysters, according to court records.

The couple declined to comment for this story, as did Lobster Haven owner Daniel Hall.

Attorneys for the couple said the illness was likely caused by the oysters.

“You take a risk when eating raw oysters,” said Brandon Cathey, who represented the Martinezes. “It might get you sick, but you don’t expect it to cause lifelong nerve damage.”

A few hours after the meal, the couple experienced vomiting and diarrhea, according to court records.

Maria Elena Martinez recovered in a few days, but three weeks later, her husband had to be taken by ambulance to Pasco Regional Medical Center after he collapsed on the floor at his home, according to court records.

Doctors transferred him to Tampa General Hospital, where he spent seven days in the intensive care unit, according to court records. He was paralyzed from the waist down for several months and had to learn how to walk again, according to court records.

Martinez’s foodborne illness developed into Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a rare disorder that causes the immune system to attack one’s own body.

He has recovered from the most severe symptoms of the illness but will likely feel long term effects, said his attorney Brent Steinberg.

Lobster Haven admitted it served the couple seafood that poisoned them but denied that it caused Guillain-Barre Syndrome, blaming instead a lamb that Mr. Martinez slaughtered and ate days later.

Lobster Haven’s insurance company offered to settle the case for $20,000 in 2016, Cathey said, but by then Martinez’s medical bills had reached more than $325,000, according to court records.

The restaurant had liability insurance up to $1 million and the Martinez’ likely would have settled for that amount, Cathey said.

“Now this restaurant may go out of business,” he said, “because of the way his insurance company handled this.”

Again, 11 sick: Blame the consumer Hong Kong edition

The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health is today (January 19) investigating an outbreak of food poisoning affecting 11 persons, and reminded the public to maintain personal, food and environmental hygiene to prevent food-borne diseases.

The patients, comprising one man and 10 women aged 63 to 76, developed abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and fever about 12 to 26 hours after having lunch at a restaurant at Lau Fau Shan in Yuen Long on January 7.

Five of them sought medical attention, of whom one required hospitalisation but was discharged upon treatment. The stool specimen of that patient tested positive for Vibrio parahaemolyticus. All affected persons are now in stable condition.

‘Something will always be somebody’s last meal’ Does it have to be today?

My favorite food safety fairytale is along the lines of, we’ve always produced food this way and no one has ever gotten sick.

Because bugs don’t change, food don’t change, people don’t change.

Raw oysters, the renowned aphrodhsiac, is especially prone to fairytale hyperbole.

Delayna Earley of the Island Packet in South Carolina, writes, who doesn’t love a good oyster roast?

“I’ve been doing this all my life and we’ve never had a case of anyone dying from eating an oyster,” Larry Toomer, owner of the Bluffton Oyster Co., said. “We know where our oysters came from because we harvest them, refrigerate them ourselves and then cook them shortly after.”

Toomer says that there is always a risk when consuming any raw food, but the oysters that are harvested off the coast of the Low country typically don’t have bacteria due cleansing nature of the tidal waters they grow in.

“Something will always be somebody’s last meal,” Toomer says. “If you’re immune system is not up to snuff you shouldn’t eat anything raw, whether that is an oyster, or burger or any other type of meat, but something is going to set you off if you’re already sick. But other than that, we shouldn’t worry too much.”

Raw is risky: Oysters strike down victims in Louisiana, Hong Kong

A Texas woman who spent a day along the Louisiana coast crabbing with friends and enjoying oysters found herself fighting for her life just 36 hours later, KLFY-TV reported.

Jeanette LeBlanc contracted a deadly flesh-eating bacteria called Vibrio that day, resulting in her death a few weeks later.

LeBlanc’s symptoms started out similar to an allergic reaction. In fact, that’s what she suspected it was before doctors told her otherwise. She had red patches of a rash on her legs and experienced respiratory issues before the symptoms worsened, KLFY reported.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the bacteria that causes Vibriosis creates 80,000 cases of illness in the United States each year and 100 deaths. The Vibrio bacteria live in coastal waters, those where oysters also live. The oysters contract the bacteria by filtering water to feed and the bacteria ends up in the tissues of the oyster, then when someone like LeBlanc eats it raw, they also contract the bacteria.

In Hong Kong, the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health today (December 29) reported its investigations into three food poisoning outbreaks suspected to be related to the consumption of raw oysters in three different restaurants.

They involve:

  1. One man and two women, aged from 25 to 39, who have developed abdominal pain, diarrhea and vomiting about 11 to 50 hours after having lunch (including raw oysters) in a restaurant in Yau Ma Tei on December 17. All sought medical attention;

2.Two women, aged from 36 to 37, who have developed similar symptoms about 30 to 33 hours after having dinner (including raw oysters) in a restaurant in Kowloon Bay on December 19. Both sought medical attention; and

  1. One man and three women, aged from 22 to 24, who have developed similar symptoms about 16 to 59 hours after having dinner (including raw oysters) in a restaurant in Tsim Sha Tsui on December 25.

One sought medical attention.

Raw is risky: Norovirus in raw oysters sickens 10 in Denmark

Joseph James Whitworth of Food Quality News writes 10 people have been sickened by norovirus after eating raw oysters at Danish restaurants.

Fødevarestyrelsen (Danish Veterinary and Food Administration) said oysters are from Lemvig.

The agency has closed the area in Lemvig for commercial harvest of mussels and oysters and is monitoring it.

Illnesses can be avoided if oysters are cooked to an internal temperature of 90° Celsius/194° Fahrenheit for a minimum of 90 seconds.

Raw is risky: 25 sickened by oysters in Seattle

A foodborne illness outbreak linked to raw oysters has sickened at least 25 people who dined at local restaurants recently, King County reported on Tuesday. The news comes after the county reported last week that a handful of people got sick eating raw oysters at two Seattle restaurants – The Salted Sea and The White Swan Public House.

The restaurants, however, are not the source of the outbreak, King County says. Most likely, the oysters were mishandled or contaminated before reaching local restaurants, although no specific local oyster beds have been connected to the outbreak.

County health officials believe diners have been sickened by Vibrio, a marine bacteria commonly found in oysters.

“Eating undercooked or raw shellfish, especially raw oysters in warm-weather months, is the main risk for acquiring vibriosis from infection with Vibrio parahaemolyticus,” King County said.

I’m not your guy, pal: Raw oysters risky for wine drinkers

When Canada’s food safety agency announced a recall of B.C. oysters last August, it meant producers like Steve Pocock had to ensure every last oyster they had shipped after a certain date was accounted for.

Oyster-Vancouver, B.C.- 07/05/07- Joe Fortes Oyster Specialist Oyster Bob Skinner samples a Fanny Bay oyster at the restuarant. Vancouver Coastal Health now requires restaurants to inform their patrons of the dangers of eating raw shellfish.  (Richard Lam/Vancouver Sun)   [PNG Merlin Archive]

Along with a recall – issued by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) after dozens of people got sick as a result of eating raw oysters contaminated with Vibrio parahaemolyticus – there was a ban on restaurants serving raw oysters from British Columbia.

The inconvenience and forgone sales added up to a big hit for Mr. Pocock and other producers in British Columbia’s oyster sector.

Over the past few months, they have been working to prevent a repeat scenario.

“The recall had a very serious impact on our industry – and it should be taken very seriously,” Mr. Pocock said in a recent interview. He owns and operates Sawmill Bay Shellfish and is also president of the BC Shellfish Grower’s Association.

“And I’m not just talking about the farmers; I’m talking about everyone right through to the server in the restaurant,” he added.

A workshop last November spawned a national working group focused on Vibrio with representatives from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Health Canada, the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) and provincial health authorities.

That group developed a prevention program for Vibrio, focusing on education, enhanced testing and improved communication between producers and government agencies.

On the education front, workshops for producers emphasized measures to control Vibrio, such as proper refrigeration during transport.

Oysters represent a relatively small chunk of British Columbia’s aquaculture sales – $13-million, compared with $380.4-million for salmon, according to a 2015 report by British Columbia’s Ministry of Agriculture – but are prized for their taste and local appeal.

“Shellfish are an important part of our business, and especially in the summertime, when patios are open, [oysters] go great with wine and it was disappointing we were unable to offer B.C. product for raw consumption,” said Guy Dean, vice-president of seafood distributor Albion Fisheries.

Yeah, especially since Vibrio produces a toxin that attacks the weak livers of persistent wine drinkers.

Raw is risky.

And this Guy ain’t your buddy. Or friend.