British Columbia·New

Norovirus triggers second shellfish closure in B.C. waters

A closure notice has been issued by Fisheries and Oceans Canada for the Subtle Islands, located east of Campbell River, B.C., after tests by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency found the norovirus in oysters from the site.

Investigation underway into how norovirus got into oysters in two areas off Vancouver Island

An oyster is displayed in its shell just before being snacked-on near Tokeland, Wash. Rising global temperatures are being linked to increasing waterborne food poisoning, particularly from eating raw oysters, a new study shows. (Elaine Thompson/Associated Press)

​A second shellfish harvesting area in the waters off Vancouver Island has been closed after norovirus was detected.

A notice has been issued by Fisheries and Oceans Canada for the Subtle Islands, located east of Campbell River, B.C., after tests by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency found norovirus in oysters from the area.

Part of Clayoqout Sound on the west coast of Vancouver Island was also closed to shellfish harvesting earlier this month after more than 100 people got sick from eating raw oysters in Tofino.

There are several ways norovirus can contaminate oysters at a harvest site, including from a worker who may be carrying the virus or waste discharged from a passing ship, said Elysha Gordon, a Resource Management Biologist with DFO.

"The oysters will filter feed the norovirus and then it is contained in the animal itself," she said.

Gordon says it's not clear yet where the norovirus came from in either area that has been closed to shellfish harvesting.

"It's an ongoing investigation with many different federal and provincial agencies that are involved. Hopefully we will get to the bottom of the source," she said.

The second closure also comes as Island Health investigates more cases of people who got sick after eating raw oysters.

The health authority issued a notice last week warning people to fully cook oysters after it received about 20 more reports of noro-like symptoms from people who consumed raw oysters in several different island communities.
   

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