48 sick: Raw is risky: Icelandic oysters cause noro at top notch restaurant

There’s nothing like people forking over huge coin only to end up barfing.

Irony is sometimes ironic.

The Iceland Monitor reports infected Icelandic oysters caused food poisoning for 48 individuals at Skelfisksmarkaðurinn, a relatively new restaurant owned by succcessful tv chef and restaurant owner Hrefna Sætran. Icelandic oysters are a novelty in Iceland as all oysters on menus until now have been imported from Ireland or other countries. 

The oysters were imported as youngsters and raised in Skjálfandaflói bay by company Víkurskel. This is the first time that the noro virus is confirmed in oysters in Iceland. 

Forty-four individuals ate oysters at the restaurant from November 8th to November 13th and four further individuals ate oysters between October 29th and November 4th. Oysters infected by the noro virus were on the menu during this period of time, confirms the Icelandid food and veterinary authority. According to the health authorities they found that the restaurant complied to all regulations and standards with regards to food safety and hygiene. 

 

Raw is risky: At least 40 sick linked to 2 Canadian oyster farms

Two B.C. Vancouver Island oyster farms have been closed following an outbreak of norovirus associated with eating the raw shellfish.

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control says about 40 cases of acute gastrointestinal illness have been connected to the consumption of raw oysters since March. Testing has confirmed some of the cases were norovirus.

Federal officials with Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) confirmed the affected farms are located on the east coast of Vancouver Island at Deep Bay and Denman Island.

While the two farms are no longer harvesting oysters for consumption, no recall of oysters has been issued by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

While the precise sources of contamination have not been identified, human sewage in the marine environment is currently believed to be the most plausible cause of shellfish contamination, according to BCCDC epidemiologist Marsha Taylor.

In late 2016 and early 2017, more than 400 norovirus cases associated with raw or undercooked B.C. oysters led to the closure of 13 farms.

The outbreak was declared over in April 2017. Human sewage was also suspected as the cause.

In order to kill norovirus and other pathogens, the BCCDC recommends consumers cook oysters thoroughly, to an internal temperature of 90 C for 90 seconds. Consumption of raw oysters is not encouraged.

Use a tip sensitive thermometer and stick it in.

And stop eating raw: It’s just a put on.

(The video is from The Who’s farewell concert in Toronto in 1982, which I watched in my girlfriend’s residence in 1982 at uni, but they’re still around to make a buck, just like food hacks. At least Towsend had tales to tell)

I’m a doctor and I joined The Doctors to talk food safety

I don’t ask anyone to call me doctor; I find it a bit awkward and pretentious.

I guess the title matters to some folks. So much so that it’s the basis for a nationally syndicated talk show produced by another doctor, Dr. Phil. Today, an episode I taped with the good doctors about a month ago aired.

We talked oysters, sprouts, raw milk and undercooked beef for a few minutes. I got my plug in for using a thermometer (although I think I erroneously said meat instead of beef).

I tried not to look too goofy (not sure I accomplished that).

My face isn’t always washed out but I ended up doing the interview via Skype from my home office (with an antique Hespeler hockey stick in the background), in direct afternoon sunlight, instead of my planned location of a campus office. The locale change was due to the 5” of snow that hit Raleigh the day before. I wasn’t driving anywhere with the NC snow-excited drivers.

I’m also not the creator of Barf Blog. I just happen to host the barfblog collective. And contribute to it sometimes.

Oh well, can’t get it all right, but food safety made it into a couple of million homes this afternoon.

But there’s no way the segment was as impactful as the one previous to mine – it was about farting at the gym.

Raw is risky: Over 100 oyster festival attendees ill in Maryland

Health officials say they are investigating a stomach flu outbreak, after over 100 people are apparently ill after attending an oyster festival, in Worcester County.

The Maryland Department of Health says on Friday, that their Division of Outbreak Investigation is working with the Worcester County Health Department to investigate a gastroenteritis outbreak that happened at a Beer and Oyster Festival, in Ocean City. The festival was apparently held at Fager’s Island Restaurant, on November 4.

According to state health officials, to date, there have been 145 cases of illness reported in Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey that could be connected to the outbreak. There have been no reports of hospitalizations and deaths.

Plastic in shellfish

My wife and I were visiting her relatives in France back in 2009 and I can recall her uncle shucking fresh oysters that he had caught just moments before. He served them raw with a fresh wedge of lemon and beer. I enjoyed the beer, couldn’t stand the oysters. It seems that along the coast of British Columbia (Canada), researchers have found plastic particles in shellfish.

Ken Christensen of NPR writes

Sarah Dudas doesn’t mind shucking an oyster or a clam in the name of science.
But sit down with her and a plate of oysters on the half-shell or a bucket of steamed Manila clams, and she’ll probably point out a bivalve’s gonads or remark on its fertility.
“These are comments I make at dinner parties,” she said. “I’ve spent too much time doing dissections. I’ve done too many spawnings.”
And lately, the shellfish biologist is making other unappetizing comments to her dinner party guests — about plastics in those shellfish.
In 2016, she and her students at Vancouver Island University planted thousands of clams and oysters across coastal British Columbia and let them soak in the sand and saltwater of the Strait of Georgia. Three months later, they dissolved hundreds of them with chemicals, filtered out the biodegradable matter and looked at the remaining material under a microscope. Inside this Pacific Northwest culinary staple, they found a rainbow of little plastic particles.
“So when you eat clams and oysters, you’re eating plastics as well,” Dudas says.
Funded by the Canadian government and British Columbia’s shellfish trade association, the project aimed to learn whether the shellfish aquaculture industry may be contaminating its own crop by using plastic infrastructure like nets, buoys and ropes. The experiment was a response to those claims by local environmental groups.
But tracking the origins of tiny plastic particles in a big ocean is new territory. So Dudas turned to Peter Ross, who has studied the effects of ocean pollution on sea life for 30 years.
“We’ve long known that plastic and debris can be a problem for ocean life,” says Ross, director of the Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Pollution Research Program.
In 2013, he began sampling the coast of British Columbia for microplastics. The researchers found up to 9,200 particles of microplastic per cubic meter of seawater — about the equivalent of emptying a salt shaker into a large moving box.
“So, large numbers,” Ross says. “Rather shocking numbers.”

The rest of the story can be found here.

Raw is risky: US woman battling cancer dies after eating oysters

I don’t eat much raw food.

Too much risk.

A Texas woman who was vacationing with her husband in Mississippi died last Thursday, after eating raw oysters that were contaminated.

Jane White Cunningham, who had battled leukemia since 2016, had several limbs removed prior to her death in an effort to combat the infection, according to the Houston Chronicle.

“There has been a lot of swelling in her extremities and a lot of pain,” David Cunningham, the 56-year-old’s husband, wrote in an Aug. 8 Facebook post. “Today they had to amputate both legs and her left arm in an attempt to save her life as the infection was spreading rapidly.”

Cunningham was being cared for a Gulfort Mississippi Hospital, with health officials pointing to the bacteria Vibrio as a cause of infection, CBS DFW reported.

Raw is risky: Searching for answers behind Vibrio-in-raw-oyster outbreaks

Michael Casey of The Charlotte Observer reports that for the past 25 years, researcher Stephen Jones has tried to understand the threat that bacteria may pose to oysters in New Hampshire’s Great Bay estuary. He often couldn’t get funding to study the problem. But that is beginning to change as scientists notice “something is going on.”

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]

Scientists are recognizing that a waterborne disease sickening tens of thousands of people each year is associated with warmer waters of the Gulf of Mexico moving northward, partly due to climate change. The problem is extremely rare in New Hampshire and neighboring Maine, but scientists have seen cases elsewhere in New England and expect it to become a bigger problem.

Cases of human illness have been piling up since Sept. in Florida, Massachusetts and Western Canada.

“We have this situation in the northern part of the United States and other cooler climates where people haven’t thought this had been a problem,” said Jones, of the Northeast Center for Vibrio Disease and Ecology at the University of New Hampshire. “In the last 10 or 20 years, it’s become very apparent that there is something going on.”

In a paper in the science journal PLOS One, Jones and other scientists reported their findings that illnesses from vibrio bacteria have jumped significantly in New England — from five cases in 2000 to 147 in 2013. Disease-causing bacteria can contaminate oysters, leading to infections such as diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pain.

Jones and his colleague, Cheryl Whistler, concluded that warmer waters in the Great Bay, higher salinity and the presence of chlorophyll all contributed to higher concentrations of one of the more common vibrio species that makes people sick — vibrio parahaemolyticus. The researchers are hoping their findings will serve as the foundation of an early warning system for the region’s booming oyster industry.

oysters-grillCurrently, all experts can do is monitor the waters and rapidly cool harvested oyster to halt bacteria growth.

An August report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that warming waters were linked to waterborne food poisoning, especially from eating raw oysters.

“There is similar reporting in Alaska where it has been found that increased cases have been occurring where it has not been reported before because of the temperature rise,” said the study’s lead author, Rita Colwell, of the University of Maryland.

The industry has welcomed Jones and Whistler’s work, noting that outbreaks like the one that occurred last month in Massachusetts need to be avoided. Nearly 75 people were sickened.

“When you are involved with a recall because people have gotten sick, you are a losing tremendous amount of money and a tremendous amount of credibility,” said Tom Howell, president of Spinney Creek Shellfish Inc., in Eliot, Maine, which harvests oysters from the Great Bay. A predictive model would allow the industry to move more aggressively to avoid an outbreak, he said.

But Howell and Chris Nash, New Hampshire’s shellfish program manager, said that day could be far off.

“We are still learning what seems to trigger these pathogenic strains to multiply … We don’t have that knowledge yet and it may be that we never do,” Nash said. “We are talking about biological organisms … They react to their environment different, the same way humans do.”

OysterFest in Wellfleet MA to go on, without raw oysters, after 75 ill with noro

I’ve eaten exactly one raw oyster ever.

It was at a reception for a food safety meeting in New Zealand.

I picked up the shell, dumped the contents (salt water and a slimy shellfish meat) into my mouth, getting about 50% of it on my shirt. I spent the rest of the night smelling like the beach.raw_oyster

I didn’t get noro from the bivalve experience. According to capecod.com 75 folks around Cape Cod, MA are ill with norovirus after eating raw oysters harvested in a month that ends in ‘r.’

The state has closed all shellfish beds in Wellfleet Harbor following an outbreak of suspected norovirus believed to be linked to shellfish from that area.

It comes just two days before the Wellfleet OysterFest, which attracts tens-of-thousands of people to the Outer Cape.

An official from the festival said the event will go on planned, but without any raw shellfish.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health issued the ban Thursday afternoon after receiving reports of approximately 75 suspect cases of norovirus over the past two days.

A statement from the DPH said they were all primarily associated with eating raw shellfish at weddings and restaurants in the Outer Cape area.

All shellfish harvesters in the area and Town of Wellfleet officials have been notified about the closure.

All affected shellfish that was harvested on or after September 26 has been recalled and ordered not to be used.

Minneapolis sees rise in foodborne illness from nororvirus, Vibrio in oysters

When I think Minnesota, I think raw oysters.

No, I never think that about anywhere.

raw.oysters.minnJeremy Olson of the Star Tribune reports that city health inspectors in Minneapolis are investigating a summer increase in foodborne illnesses related to norovirus and Vibrio, a bacteria found in raw oysters.

The increases were highlighted in the city’s “food establishment” newsletter, released Thursday.

“The reason for the spike in norovirus outbreaks is not known,” the advisory stated. “The Vibrio outbreaks are due to higher concentrations of bacteria in some oyster beds during the summer.”

Cases of norovirus, a highly contagious bug that causes severe vomiting and diarrhea, are not required to be reported to the Minnesota Department of Health, but the state agency has received reports of a slight uptick that is unusual for this time of year.

Raw is risky: Study links global warming to rise in waterborne illnesses

Rising global temperatures are clearly linked to increasing waterborne food poisoning, particularly from eating raw oysters, along with other nasty infections, a new study shows.

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]

About a dozen species of vibrio bacteria make people sick from eating raw or undercooked seafood or drinking or swimming in tainted water. It also causes cholera, although that was not the focus of the research.

Lab-confirmed vibrio infections in the United States have increased from an average of about 390 a year from the late 1990s to an average of 1,030 in recent years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But most cases aren’t confirmed by tests and reported.

“It’s a remarkable increase on an annual basis,” said study lead author Rita Colwell of the University of Maryland, a top microbiologist who used to head the National Science Foundation.

The study examined Europe and North America, but the most consistent tracking of vibrio illnesses were in the United States. The CDC blames about 100 deaths a year on vibrio on average.

Even Alaska, where such outbreaks used to be unheard of because the bacteria needs warm water, is getting cases from people eating vibrio-infected oysters, Colwell said. Her study, published in Monday’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences , highlights an unprecedented wave of vibrio illnesses from swimming in northern Europe during heat waves in 1994, 1997, 2003, 2006 and 2010.

Climate influence on Vibrio and associated human diseases during the past half-century in the coastal North Atlantic

22.jun.16

DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1609157113

Vezzulli, C. Grande, P.C. Reid, P. Hélaouët, M. Edwards, M.G. Höfle, I. Brettar, R.R. Colwell, C. Pruzzo

http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2016/08/02/1609157113.abstract

Climate change is having a dramatic impact on marine animal and plant communities but little is known of its influence on marine prokaryotes, which represent the largest living biomass in the world oceans and play a fundamental role in maintaining life on our planet. In this study, for the first time to our knowledge, experimental evidence is provided on the link between multidecadal climatic variability in the temperate North Atlantic and the presence and spread of an important group of marine prokaryotes, the vibrios, which are responsible for several infections in both humans and animals. Using archived formalin-preserved plankton samples collected by the Continuous Plankton Recorder survey over the past half-century (1958–2011), we assessed retrospectively the relative abundance of vibrios, including human pathogens, in nine areas of the North Atlantic and North Sea and showed correlation with climate and plankton changes. Generalized additive models revealed that long-term increase in Vibrio abundance is promoted by increasing sea surface temperatures (up to ∼1.5 °C over the past 54 y) and is positively correlated with the Northern Hemisphere Temperature (NHT) and Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) climatic indices (P < 0.001). Such increases are associated with an unprecedented occurrence of environmentally acquired Vibrio infections in the human population of Northern Europe and the Atlantic coast of the United States in recent years.