As of March 30, 2022, there have been 279 cases of norovirus and gastrointestinal illness linked to consumption of B.C. oysters reported in the following provinces: B.C. (262), Alberta (1), Saskatchewan (1), and Ontario (15). Individuals became sick between mid-January and late March 2022, and no deaths have been reported. Although not all cases of illness have been tested, testing of several cases has confirmed the presence of a norovirus infection.
Some oyster harvest areas in B.C. that have been associated with illnesses in this outbreak have been closed as a part of the investigation. Food recalls were conducted on February 18, March 20, March 23, and March 27, 2022 for oysters from B.C. For more information on the recalled products, please consult the Government of Canada’s Recalls and Safety Alerts website.
The CFIA is continuing its food safety investigation, which may lead to the recall of other products. If other products are recalled, the CFIA will notify the public through updated food recall warnings.
Acute gastrointestinal illnesses such as norovirus illness are common in North America and are very contagious, affecting all age groups. However, pregnant women, people with compromised immune systems, young children and the elderly are at risk for developing more serious complications, like dehydration.
People with norovirus illness usually develop symptoms of gastroenteritis within 24 to 48 hours, but symptoms can start as early as 12 hours after exposure. The illness often begins suddenly. Even after having the illness, you can still become re-infected by norovirus.
The main symptoms of norovirus illness are:
- vomiting (children usually experience more vomiting than adults)
- stomach cramps
Other symptoms may include:
- low-grade fever
- muscle aches
- fatigue (a general sense of tiredness)
Most people feel better within one or two days, with symptoms resolving on their own, and experience no long-term health effects. As with any illness causing diarrhea or vomiting, people who are ill should drink plenty of liquids to replace lost body fluids and prevent dehydration. In severe cases, patients may need to be hospitalized and given fluids intravenously. If you have severe symptoms of norovirus, consult your healthcare provider.
The Public Health Agency of Canada is collaborating with federal and provincial public health partners to investigate an outbreak of norovirus and gastrointestinal illnesses involving four provinces: British Columbia (B.C.), Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario.
Based on the investigation findings to date, the outbreak is linked to consumption of raw oysters from B.C. Some oyster harvesting areas in B.C. that have been associated with illnesses in this outbreak have been closed as a part of the investigation. These closures aim to prevent further illness.
Food recalls were conducted on February 18, March 20, March 23, and March 27, 2022 for oysters from B.C. Links to each food recall associated with this investigation can be found at the end of this public health notice. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is continuing its food safety investigation, which may lead to the recall of other products. If other products are recalled, the CFIA will notify the public through updated food recall warnings.
Do not eat, use, sell, or serve the recalled oysters.
Also, avoid eating raw or undercooked oysters to reduce your risk of foodborne illness and follow proper food handling practices. Cook oysters to an internal temperature of 90° Celsius (194° Fahrenheit) for a minimum of 90 seconds.
The outbreak investigation is ongoing and additional actions to protect public health will be taken as needed. This public health notice will be updated as the investigation evolves.
Norovirus: Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Norovirus outbreaks. The Norovirus lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Norovirus and other foodborne illness outbreaks and have recovered over $800 million for clients. Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation. Our Norovirus lawyers have litigated Norovirus cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a number of food products and restaurants.