Norovirus and Oysters

Right now there is a Norovirus outbreak that has affected up to 39 people in Seattle. Dr. Aaron Smith talks about this outbreak and how to protect yourself in the latest video on the Interactive Health YouTube channel.

Beware of Biotoxins

While eating fresh seafood is one of the big benefits to living in a coastal city in the Pacific Northwest, there are few things to watch out for. One of the things about shellfish: clams, mussels, and oysters is that they can accumulate biotoxins. They are doing their job: filtering nutrients out of the water, but they can accumulate dangerous levels of heavy metals, toxins, viruses and bacteria. Most people will cook mussels or clams but many people will eat oysters raw.

Norovirus – Symptoms

Right now there is a Norovirus outbreak that has affected up to 39 people in Seattle. This is causing a viral enteritis, which has symptoms of violent diarrhea and vomiting for 48 to 72 hours and is infectious for several days afterwards. This is not just affecting people who are gathering their own shellfish but also people who order oysters at restaurants.

How to Protect Yourself from Norovirus

This is something to be aware of you are going to have oysters soon. Make sure they are cooked to at least 145 degrees F, or if you are going to have them raw, do so at your own risk and be sure of their origin or the restaurant is not having an outbreak and there is not a current advisory warning. You can go on the Washington state department of health website to see if there are any local outbreaks. There is also an interactive map that can show you areas in the Puget Sound that are closed to shellfish harvesting.

There was an electrical failure at West Point Treatment Plant in Seattle that has spewed millions of gallons of raw sewage into Puget Sound. While no direct causal relationship with any outbreaks has been found to date, this gives you a bit of concern.

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