Oysters sold at Publix and other Florida retailers are associated with a widespread norovirus outbreak

Oysters – Courtesy: Image by Plateresca from Shutterstock

A recent norovirus outbreak related to raw oysters sold in Florida and seven other states is being looked into, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As of Thursday, 211 norovirus cases had been reported in Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas, according to an updated CDC epidemic notice.

According to officials, oysters from Galveston Bay, Texas’s harvest area TX 1 appear to be the source of the outbreak.

The contaminated oysters were harvested from November 17 to December 7 and were sent to restaurants and retail establishments in the aforementioned states, while the CDC speculated that they may have also been delivered to other states.

After Texas health officials reported over 40 illnesses at the time, Publix issued a recall on December 9. The oysters, which had the Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) 29697000000, were marketed by the chain as being available at Publix stores as well as Publix Greenwise markets.

The FDA eventually acknowledged that the oysters might have been norovirus-contaminated.

“Norovirus is the leading cause of foodborne illness in the United States,” the CDC said. “However, state, local, and territorial health departments are not required to report individual cases of norovirus illness to a national surveillance system. That’s why we may not know about many cases, especially if people do not go to a doctor’s office or hospital.”

The CDC estimates that there are over 2,500 norovirus outbreaks in the US annually, with the majority occurring between November and April.

Among the norovirus symptoms are stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Within 12 to 48 hours of viral exposure, these symptoms may appear.

Most infected people recover within one to three days, although there is a chance of dehydration from the illness, which may require medical attention.

The CDC advised washing produce before preparing it, washing hands thoroughly and frequently, cooking oysters and other shellfish to at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit, and cleaning contaminated surfaces.

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