An East Coast norovirus outbreak has been reported, with more than a dozen people falling ill after reportedly coming into contact with contaminated oysters.
Amid several other outbreaks nationwide of the gastrointestinal virus, there are reports that oysters from the Oregon Oyster Farms Inc. may have led to the infection of 17 people in a small East Coast norovirus outbreak.
Food Safety Network reported that the oysters had sell-by dates ranging from February 19, to March 8, and were sold to restaurants and retailers in Oregon and wholesalers in New York and Massachusetts.
The report noted that the norovirus is a common ailment.
“Norovirus is the most common cause of outbreaks of foodborne disease in Oregon and the United States, according to the Oregon department. In 24-48 hours after exposure, infected people typically develop vomiting and diarrhea that last a day or two.”
“The virus is present in the feces of infected persons for a couple of days after symptoms resolve. For this reason, public health officials recommend that during an outbreak, affected persons remain home from school or work for 48 hours after symptoms resolve.
“Norovirus is highly contagious, and infected persons have enormous numbers of the virus in their feces. It is spread readily from person to person, and alcohol hand gels do not kill the disease, so hand-washing with soap and water is extremely important.”
Experts say the virus can spread quickly and easily, especially if an infected person handles food or comes in direct contact with others.
“When somebody goes to the bathroom, and they don’t wash their hands very well, they go touching the door knob or touching something else you can certainly spread it that way,” Dr. Edward Ramoska told CBS News. “People can get dehydrated, and so people can faint and things like that. That’s the more dangerous sides of the disease.”
In the last week, the norovirus was reported at three college campuses in the United States, leaving hundreds of students sickened and prompting the Department of Health and Human Services to investigate. The first outbreak took place at Ursinus College in Pennyslvania, where 200 students were hit with the nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea commonly associated with the virus.
Within a few days, another outbreak was reported at the University of Michigan, where more than 100 students fell ill after coming in contact with the virus.
ABC News reported that one student had to be hospitalized for dehydration while many more were bedridden.
University officials said they did not know the source of the outbreak, but knew that it began somewhere in the school’s West Quad and South Quad university housing. The university underwent an intensive cleaning process to eliminate any traces of the virus in food service areas.
The norovirus outbreak at the University of Michigan had effects beyond sickening students. It also delayed the start of the 2016 Big Ten Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships.
“The University of Michigan campus has been notified of an illness linked to several community members, including members of the Michigan women’s swimming and diving program. With the Big Ten Women’s Swimming & Diving Championships held in Ann Arbor this week, the Big Ten Conference, University of Michigan athletic department and University of Michigan Health System are monitoring the situation throughout the day to assure Canham Natatorium is a safe environment for all competitors and spectators.”
A third college, Miami University in Ohio, was also home to an outbreak. Like the University of Michigan, Miami officials underwent an intensive cleaning process.
“We have been very diligent in our cleaning and are using products that combat the virus in our residential and dining halls,” Miami University spokesperson Carole Johnson said. “A small number of the students have gone to a local hospital since the outbreak for dehydration symptoms.”
The east coast norovirus outbreak is not expected to have too widespread of an effect. While the virus causes discomfort, it is not life-threatening and usually resolves within a few days.
Anyone who bought the recalled oysters from Oregon Oyster Farms Inc. are instructed to throw them away or return them for a full refund. Consumers with questions or who believe they may have been affected by the East Coast norovirus outbreak are told to contact the company at 541-265-5078.
[Picture by Chris Graythen/Getty Images]