The Public Health Agency of Canada collaborated with federal and provincial public health partners, the United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (U.S. CDC), and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to investigate an outbreak of norovirus and gastrointestinal illnesses involving five provinces: British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario. The outbreak appears to be over and the outbreak investigation has been closed.

Investigation findings identified consumption of raw oysters from British Columbia as the source of the outbreak. As a result, some oyster harvesting areas in British Columbia that were associated with the outbreak were closed as a part of the investigation.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) issued several food recalls throughout February, March, and April. Links to each food recall associated with this investigation can be found at the end of this public health notice.

The outbreak investigation is an important reminder to Canadians and businesses that raw oysters can carry harmful germs that can lead to foodborne illness if not properly handled and cooked prior to consuming.

In total, 339 confirmed cases of norovirus and gastrointestinal illness were reported in the following provinces: British Columbia (301), Alberta (3), Saskatchewan (1), Manitoba (15) and Ontario (19). Individuals became sick between mid-January and early April 2022, and no deaths were reported.

Some oyster harvest areas in British Columbia that were associated with illnesses in the outbreak were closed as a part of the investigation. The CFIA issued several food recalls throughout February, March, and April. For more information on the recalled products, please consult the Government of Canada’s Recalls and Safety Alerts website.

The U.S. CDC also investigated a multistate norovirus outbreak linked to raw oysters from British Columbia.

Illnesses: 103 illnesses* have been reported as of April 6, 2022

States affected: CA, CO, FL, HI, IL, MA, MN, NJ, NV, NY, OR, TX and WA

Recall: No

Investigation Status: Active

*This number is an estimate based on the information we have at this time. CDC is working with state and local partners to determine a more accurate number of illnesses in this outbreak and will update this number as more information is gathered.

About Norovirus: Norovirus is a highly contagious virus and can be spread easily from person-to-person, through contaminated surfaces, and by eating contaminated food, including raw or undercooked oysters. Symptoms of norovirus usually begin 12 to 48 hours after a person has encounter the virus and can last for 1 to 3 days. Common symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, and stomach cramps. People who develop symptoms of norovirus infection should consult their health care providers.  Also, see: What do you need to know about Norovirus and Raw Oysters.

Norovirus makes its way into the marine environment through untreated human sewage (poop) and vomit. This may come from leaky septic systems, faulty wastewater treatment plants, boaters, or beachgoers. Shellfish are filter feeders, which means they filter seawater through their bodies to get food floating in the water. When norovirus particles are in the water, shellfish can accumulate the virus in their bodies.  For a bit of history: A Baker’s Dozen of years of Oyster Norovirus Outbreaks.

Some oyster harvest areas in British Columbia that have been associated with illnesses in this outbreak have been closed as a part of the investigation. The CFIA has issued several food recalls throughout February, March, and April. For more information on the recalled products, please consult the Government of Canada’s Recalls and Safety Alerts website. Government of Canada Recalls and Safety Alerts:

February 18, 2022

March 20, 2022

March 23, 2022

March 27, 2022

March 27, 2022

March 31, 2022

April 6, 2022

Canada reports: As of April 8, 2022, there have been 328 cases of norovirus and gastrointestinal illness linked to consumption of British Columbia oysters reported in the following provinces: British Columbia (293), Alberta (3), Saskatchewan (1), Manitoba (15) and Ontario (16). Individuals became sick between mid-January and early April 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.

The CDC reports: As of April 6, 2022, at least 103 norovirus illnesses have been reported from 13 states: CDC is working with state and local partners to determine a more accurate number of illnesses in this outbreak and will update this number as more information is gathered. FDA Advises Restaurants and Retailers Not to Serve or Sell Potentially Contaminated Raw Oysters from Canada.

States impacted (thus far): California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Texas and Washington.  Thus far California reports (34), Hawaii reports (4), Minnesota reports (29) and Washington reports (36).

Washington: (36) The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) has updated its advisory to Washington residents to not serve or eat certain oysters harvested from the south and central parts of Baynes Sound, British Columbia, Canada until further notice. The advisory is in alignment with the recent release from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on a multi-state outbreak of norovirus illness linked to raw oysters. Twenty-six Washington residents have reported norovirus-like illness after eating oysters. Illnesses have been reported from residents of Clark, King, and Snohomish counties. Seattle King County Department of Health added 10 linked to oysters served at Il Terrazzo Carmine.

California:  (34) The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) warned consumers April 2, 2022, not to eat raw oysters from British Columbia, Canada because they may be linked to an outbreak of norovirus illnesses in California. In California, at least 34 persons have become ill following the consumption of oysters at nine restaurants located throughout the state. Illness has been reported from March 11 through 19, 2022.

Minnesota: (29) On April 1, 2022, the Minnesota Department of Health, Hennepin County Public Health, and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture are working with federal officials and public health agencies in other states and Canada to investigate norovirus illnesses associated with oysters. 29 Minnesotans have been sickened in this outbreak. They became ill with confirmed or suspected norovirus gastroenteritis after eating raw oysters at Travail Kitchen in Robbinsdale on March 20.

Hawaii: (4) Hawaiian Health officials are warning the public of a norovirus outbreak linked to raw oysters from Canada that were distributed to restaurants and retailers in various U.S. states, including Hawaii, where several cases have been confirmed. The Hawaii Department of Health said as of late Tuesday, there have been four suspect cases of norovirus associated with raw oysters reported in the state. Three of the four suspect cases consumed raw oysters in Hawaii County, and one consumed raw oysters in Honolulu County, between March 8 and 22.

The Norovirus attorneys of Marler Clark have many years of experience working with clients on Norovirus outbreak lawsuits.

Noroviruses are estimated to cause 23 million cases of acute gastroenteritis (commonly called the “stomach flu”) in the U.S. each year, and are the leading cause of gastroenteritis. In addition, norovirus outbreaks may be the most common foodborne illness outbreaks. Noroviruses can cause extended outbreaks because of their high infectivity, persistence in the environment, resistance to common disinfectants, and difficulty in controlling their transmission through routine sanitary measures.

The norovirus is transmitted primarily through the fecal-oral route and fewer than 100 norovirus particles are said to be needed to cause infection. Transmission occurs either person-to-person or through contamination of food or water. Transmission can occur by:

· Touching surfaces or objects contaminated with norovirus and then placing that hand in your mouth

· Having direct contact with another person who is infected with norovirus and showing symptoms

· Sharing foods or eating utensils with someone who is ill

· Exposure to aerosolized vomit

· Consuming food contaminated by an infected food handler.

The Marler Clark Norovirus lawyers have unparalleled experience representing victims of norovirus and other foodborne illnesses. Our Norovirus attorneys have represented victims of notable norovirus outbreaks such as the 2005 Blimpies’ Subs norovirus outbreak and the 2006 Carrabba’s norovirus outbreak. Contact us today to learn more about our services.

Norovirus makes its way into the marine environment through untreated human sewage (poop) and vomit. This may come from leaky septic systems, faulty waste water treatment plants, boaters, or beach-goers. Shellfish are filter feeders, which means they filter seawater through their bodies to get food floating in the water. When norovirus particles are in the water, shellfish can accumulate the virus in their bodies.  For a bit of history: A Baker’s Dozen of years of Oyster Norovirus Outbreaks.

California: The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) warned consumers April 2, 2022, not to eat raw oysters from British Columbia, Canada because they may be linked to an outbreak of norovirus illnesses in California. In California, at least 34 persons have become ill following the consumption of oysters at nine restaurants located throughout the state. Illness has been reported from March 11 through 19, 2022.

Minnesota: On April 1, 2022, the Minnesota Department of Health, Hennepin County Public Health, and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture are working with federal officials and public health agencies in other states and Canada to investigate norovirus illnesses associated with oysters harvested from Bay 14-8 in British Columbia. 29 Minnesotans have been sickened in this outbreak. They became ill with confirmed or suspected norovirus gastroenteritis after eating raw oysters at Travail Kitchen in Robbinsdale on March 20.

Washington: On April 1, 2022, officials at the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) advise Washington residents to not serve or eat raw oysters harvested from an area of British Columbia (BC), Canada until further notice. 18 Washington residents have reported norovirus-like illness after eating BC oysters from harvest area BC 14-8 since March 7, 2022.

Canada: As of March 31, 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.  In mid-March Canada had announced 50 sick with norovirus – B.C. Oysters have Norovirus – 50 sickened. 

Recall Information: 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.

About Norovirus: Norovirus is a highly contagious virus and can be spread easily from person-to-person, through contaminated surfaces, and by eating contaminated food, including raw or undercooked oysters. Symptoms of norovirus usually begin 12 to 48 hours after a person has encounter the virus and can last for 1 to 3 days. Common symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, and stomach cramps. People who develop symptoms of norovirus infection should consult their health care providers.  Also, see: What do you need to know about Norovirus and Raw Oysters.

Canada Area Norovirus Outbreak: 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:

  • diarrhea
  • vomiting (children usually experience more vomiting than adults)
  • nausea
  • stomach cramps

Other symptoms may include:

  • low-grade fever
  • headache
  • chills
  • 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 recallassociated 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.

Minnesota Area Norovirus Outbreak: The Minnesota Department of Health, Hennepin County Public Health, and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture are working with federal officials and public health agencies in other states and Canada to investigate norovirus illnesses associated with oysters harvested from Bay 14-8 in British Columbia.

Twenty-nine Minnesotans have been sickened in this outbreak. They became ill with confirmed or suspected norovirus gastroenteritis after eating raw oysters at Travail Kitchen in Robbinsdale on March 20. The oysters served were Stellar Bay Gold oysters harvested on March 10 from Deep Bay 14-8 CLF #140706 in British Columbia, Canada.

“Travail Kitchen quickly brought the cases to our attention, and immediately stopped serving oysters,” said Duane Hudson, Hennepin County Public Health, Environmental Health manager. “We are grateful to Travail for their help in protecting the public from foodborne illnesses.”

While some parts of the harvest area have been closed, it is likely that oysters from this area are still in the marketplace. With that in mind, officials are urging restaurants and distributors to check shellstock tags and discard oysters from this harvest area. Consumers can ask oyster suppliers or restaurants to check the shellstock tag for the harvest location. Norovirus and other pathogens found in raw oysters can be destroyed by cooking to 145 degrees Fahrenheit before eating.

Symptoms of norovirus typically include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or stomach cramps that begin 12 to 48 hours after ingestion of the virus. There is currently a high level of norovirus illness activity in Minnesota, and most is not associated with eating oysters.

“People with norovirus can spread it to others even after symptoms stop,” MDH Epidemiologist Supervisor Senior Carlota Medus said. “The best way to limit spread is to wash your hands well with soap and water after using the bathroom and before preparing food for others.”

Seattle Area Norovirus Outbreak: Public Health routinely reports the illnesses to Washington State Department of Health (DOH) Shellfish Program, which is responsible for tracking the harvest locations of the oysters implicated in these illnesses. Multiple illnesses tracked to a common growing area may result in the closure of implicated harvest locations or other enforcement actions.

Restaurant/venue/vendor Meal date Number ill Suspected organism
Elliott’s Oyster House
1201 Alaskan Way Pier 56, Seattle
3/13/2022 1 Norovirus
The Pink Door
1919 Post Alley, Seattle
3/15/2022 3 Norovirus
The Pink Door
1919 Post Alley, Seattle
3/15/2022 2 Norovirus
Enzo’s Bistro & Bar
120 NW Gilman Blvd, Issaquah
3/15/2022 2 Norovirus
Taylor Shellfish
124 Republican St, Seattle
3/17/2022 3 Norovirus
Enzo’s Bistro & Bar
120 NW Gilman Blvd, Issaquah
3/17/2022 2 Norovirus
The Pink Door
1919 Post Alley, Seattle
3/17/2022 4 Norovirus
Goldfinch Tavern at Four Seasons Hotel
99 Union St, Seattle
3/20/2022 2 Norovirus
Goldfinch Tavern at Four Seasons Hotel
99 Union St, Seattle
3/21/2022 3 Norovirus
Shucker’s at Fairmont Olympic Hotel
411 University St, Seattle
3/25/2022 1 Norovirus
Ivar’s Acres of Clams
1001 Alaskan Way Ste. 102, Seattle
3/25/2022 2 Norovirus
Taylor Shellfish
1521 Melrose Ave, Seattle
3/26/2022 1 Norovirus

We’ve recently received multiple reports of people getting sick with norovirus-like illness (nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea) after eating raw oysters in restaurants. In just March alone, we’ve received reports of 13 people whose illnesses we believe are linked to eating raw oysters. An additional 14 people became sick after being in close contact with the ill people who ate oysters. Most of the additional illnesses are among family members.

Eating raw oysters can make you sick because they can be contaminated with norovirus and other germs.  While norovirus is not typically a serious illness for healthy people, it can be very unpleasant. In addition, it’s highly contagious, meaning someone who has been infected with norovirus after eating raw oysters can easily pass the virus to their family and friends.

Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) is warning consumers to take steps to protect their health following an increase in cases of norovirus associated with consumption of raw B.C. oysters. Since Monday, March 14, more than 50 people have been affected with acute gastrointestinal illness, such as stomach pain, diarrhea or vomiting, after eating raw oysters. Lab testing has confirmed the presence of norovirus in some of the cases and it is suspected in others. The BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) has issued a notice to restaurants and retailers in B.C. to advise them of the risk.

Based on an investigation by the BCCDC, local and federal agencies, and the shellfish industry, affected harvest areas are being closed and will reopen when contamination is cleared. Learn more about Norovirus here. In-depth information about how it contaminates the marine environment can be found here.

How to cook oysters

To kill norovirus and other germs it is recommended to cook oysters thoroughly, to an internal temperature of 90 degrees Celsius for 90 seconds before eating. Public health recommends against consuming raw oysters. Avoid cross-contamination of other foods during preparation and eat shellfish immediately after cooking.

Symptoms

Symptoms of norovirus include nausea, cramping, chills, fever, vomiting and diarrhea, and usually occur 12-48 hours after consumption. If you experience these symptoms after eating raw oysters, call BC HealthLink at 811. If symptoms are severe or persist, seek medical attention.

Report your illness

Oyster-related illness should be reported to VCH for investigation by calling (604) 675-3800 or by e-mail to EHVC@vch.ca.

Learn more about the safe consumption of fish and shellfish at http://www.bccdc.ca/health- info/prevention-public-health/fish-shellfish-safety

Two Rivers Public Health District is experiencing an increase of both norovirus and rotavirus cases in the district. In order to prevent the spread of both illnesses between people, Two Rivers strongly recommends taking the following actions:

• Washing hands carefully and frequently
• Staying home when experiencing vomiting and diarrhea
• Careful cleaning of surfaces that have had contact with vomit and diarrhea using an EPA certified cleaning products

Norovirus is a very contagious virus that causes vomiting and diarrhea. People of all ages can get infected and sick with norovirus. People with norovirus illness can shed billions of norovirus particles. Only a few virus particles can make other people sick. Norovirus symptoms usually begin one to two days after exposure to the virus, but can begin as early as twelve hours after exposure. Most people with norovirus usually get better within one to three days.

Rotavirus is a very contagious virus that primarily affects infants and young children. However, people of all ages can get infected. Symptoms of rotavirus usually start about two days after a person is exposed to the virus and can last three to eight days. Rotavirus vaccine can help prevent serious illness in children and is commonly administered starting at 2 months old.

Norovirus and rotavirus outbreaks also frequently occur in schools, childcare centers, colleges, and universities. Both norovirus and rotavirus are spread by accidentally getting tiny particles of feces (poop) or vomit from an infected person in your mouth. Outbreaks on school and university campuses have even led to campus closures. Close quarters, shared spaces, and high-touch surfaces make it easy for norovirus and rotavirus to spread.

If you are experiencing norovirus or rotavirus symptoms, please contact your primary care provider and stay home. Typical symptoms for both norovirus and rotavirus are:

• diarrhea
• vomiting
• nausea
• stomach pain • fever
• headache
• body aches

Seattle-King County Public Health is investigating an outbreak of norovirus-like illness associated with vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and chills at Rock Wood Fired Pizza in Renton, WA.

No hospitalizations or deaths are associated with the 12-case outbreak.   Rock Wood Fired Pizza, located at 830 N. 10th St. in Renton has a “good” current rating for prior food safety inspections.

Public Health currently has not identified how norovirus was spread within the restaurant. This is not uncommon for norovirus outbreaks, because the virus can spread through multiple contaminated food items, environmental surfaces, and from person to person.

Since February 22, 2022, 9 people from 2 separate meal parties reported becoming ill after eating food from the Rock Wood Fired Pizza between February 19 and 20, 2022.

Public Health has identified three ill employees who reported symptoms consistent with norovirus dating back to February 20, 2022, but who did not work while sick.

Further investigation is ongoing.

Public Health actions

Environmental Health Investigators visited the restaurant on February 23, 2022. Investigators did not find any risk factors that are known to contribute to the spread of norovirus. The restaurant closed on February 23, 2022, to complete a thorough cleaning and disinfection. All ready-to-eat foods were discarded for those processed before the restaurant was disinfected.

Environmental Health investigators again visited the restaurant on February 24 and confirmed proper cleaning and disinfection were completed. The restaurant reopened on February 24, 2022.

Investigators reviewed with restaurant management the requirement that ill staff are not allowed to work until they are symptom-free for at least 48 hours and provided education about preventing the spread of norovirus, including proper handwashing and preventing bare hand contact with ready-to-eat foods.

Laboratory testing is in process for some of the individuals who reported norovirus-like illnesses. Often in norovirus outbreaks, no laboratory testing is done because people tend to get better within a day or two. Symptoms among those who got sick are suggestive of norovirus.

Norovirus is a highly contagious virus that frequently spreads person-to-person and is often associated with food. Norovirus illness often has a sudden onset of nausea and vomiting and/or watery diarrhea with cramps. A low-grade fever, chills, and body aches sometimes occur.

Norovirus rarely causes severe complications. Dehydration is the most common complication, particularly among young children and the elderly. No vaccine is available for norovirus.

Public Health  says these measures help reduce the risk of contracting norovirus::

  • Wash hands, cutting boards, and counters used for food preparation immediately after use to avoid cross-contamination of other foods.
  • Wash hands thoroughly with soap after using the bathroom or changing diapers, and before preparing any food or eating.
  • Wait at least 48 hours after the last episode of vomiting and/or diarrhea before preparing any food for others.

Renton is immediately south of Seattle.  Public Health serves about 2.1 million people in the Seattle metropolitan area.

Pittsburgh Carmalt PreK-8 will be closed Monday for cleaning after an apparent norovirus outbreak among students and staff members.

Pittsburgh Public School District spokeswoman Ebony Pugh said the schools, located in the Brookline neighborhood, have been receiving a “high volume” of reports of non-COVID-related illness from students and staff since Thursday.

The district, in consultation with the Allegheny County Health Department, determined the illness is most likely norovirus.

Norovirus is a virus that is transmitted through contact with stool or vomit and touching contaminated surfaces.

On Monday, the district’s maintenance team will clean the building “thoroughly” in order to prevent further infections.

Classes will resume on Tuesday, Dec. 14.

Common symptoms associated with norovirus include diarrhea, vomiting and stomach pain. A loss of energy, mild headache and low-grade fever are sometimes present, the district said.

There is no specific treatment for norovirus and symptoms usually resolve within 24-48 hours.