Raw Oysters Linked to Recent Illness: Recall Advised

raw oysters

A recent outbreak of Norovirus has been linked to raw oysters. The Food and Drug Administration( FDA) is advising a recall of oysters harvested between Feb. 24 and March 17, 2009, from Mississippi Area 2C, located in the Mississippi Sound portion of the Gulf of Mexico near Pass Christian, Miss. They are advising retailer and food service operators not to offer these oysters for sale. They are advising that consumers who may have purchased these oysters not to eat them.

If you are unsure as to the origin of your purchased oysters, you are advised to contact the place where you purchased the oysters and ask if they are from the affected area mentioned above. Retailers and food service operators can check the tag or labeling that should accompany all raw molluscan shellfish to verify its origin.

Approximately a dozen individuals have reported becoming sick after eating raw oysters consumed in a restaurant in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department and Tennessee Department of Health confirmed that the patients were infected with norovirus.

Norovirus is a foodborne pathogen that can cause acute gastroenteritis in humans. The symptoms of norovirus illness begin suddenly, most often in 24 to 48 hours after ingestion of the virus, but they can appear as early as 12 hours after exposure. The gastrointestinal symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and some stomach cramping.


In addition to gastrointestinal symptoms, infected persons may have a low-grade fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, and a general sense of tiredness. In most the illness is self-limiting with symptoms lasting for about 1 or 2 days. Children tend to experience more vomiting than adults.

People infected with norovirus are contagious from the moment they begin feeling ill until at least 3 days after recovery. Some people may be contagious for as long as 2 weeks after recovery. It is particularly important for people to use good hand washing and hygiene after they have recently recovered from norovirus illness.

People with weakened immune systems, including those affected by AIDS, chronic alcohol abuse, liver, stomach or blood disorders, cancer, diabetes, or kidney disease should never consume raw oysters, regardless of where the oysters are harvested.

For more information on seafood safety, please visit >FDA or call FDA’s Food Safety Hotline at 1-888-SAFEFOOD.

>Food and Drug Administration
>Center for Disease Control and Prevention