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Norovirus traced to Texas shellfish

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Although Alby’s Seafood of Fulton, TX issued a recall of all oysters December 26th, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning consumers not to eat raw or partially cooked oysters harvested from Copano Bay, in Aransas County, TX between Dec. 26, 2013 and Jan. 9, 2014 following the outbreak of six noroviruses illnesses in Louisiana.

As a result, the Bay was closed for shellfish harvesting by the Texas Department of State Health Services. Both agencies have also advised all shellfish wholesalers, retail food establishments, restaurants and consumers to check the identity tags on all containers of shellfish in their inventories, and dispose of any shellfish found to have come from Copano Bay between the above dates.

Norovirus is generally contracted by eating contaminated food and water and by person-to-person transmission including breathing air near a toilet used by a sick individual, as well as near anywhere they have vomited.

Norovirus, which causes severe gastroenteritis (inflammation of stomach and intestines) affects more than 267 million people a year and accounts for close to 200,000 deaths annually, although most people recover from the illness within a couple of days. The most common symptoms are nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach pain. The CDC also reports that dehydration can be a problem among young children, the elderly, and people with other illnesses.

The virus is generally spread through eating contaminated food and water, as well as coming into contact with someone’s vomit or feces. It can also be “aerosolized by a toilet flush when vomit or diarrhea is present, even if already clean-up”

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