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March 23, 2017
Outbreak of norovirus and gastrointestinal illnesses linked to raw and undercooked oysters

The Public Health Agency of Canada is collaborating with federal and provincial public health partners to investigate norovirus and gastrointestinal illnesses in British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario linked to raw and undercooked oysters from British Columbia.

As of March 20, 2017, 56 cases of gastrointestinal illness consistent with norovirus have been reported in Ontario from individuals who reported eating raw or undercooked oysters.

Dr. David McKeown, Ontario's Acting Chief Medical Officer of Health has issued a statement:

“Cooking oysters at an internal temperature of 90 Degrees Celsius (194 Degrees Fahrenheit) for a minimum of 90 seconds should eliminate norovirus and other potentially harmful microorganisms.

“Foodborne outbreaks of norovirus illness can occur when food is contaminated with the virus. Some foods can be contaminated at the source. Shellfish such as oysters can become contaminated from the water before they are harvested.

“The common symptoms of gastrointestinal illness are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramps. In most healthy people, acute diarrhea and vomiting should resolve in one to two days. Symptoms may last longer in some people. Anyone experiencing these symptoms after eating oysters should seek the advice of their health care provider."

Restaurants and retailers are being asked to ensure that customers are aware of the varieties and origin of raw or lightly cooked oysters that are being served or sold to them.

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Contact for more information

Oxford County Public Health, Environmental Health
519-539-9800, ext. 3520

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