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Norovirus found in Louisiana oysters
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Georgia Department Agriculture Commissioner Tommy Irvin is alerting consumers that norovirus has been found in some raw oysters harvested in Louisiana.

Irvin said raw oysters harvested from the West Karako Bay section of growing area 3 in Louisiana from Dec. 3 through Dec. 21 may possibly be contaminated with norovirus.

“Our field inspectors are looking for these oysters in Georgia retail and wholesale facilities,” Irvin said.

FDA has received reports of norovirus infection in seven individuals who ate raw oysters on Dec. 13 at a restaurant in Chattanooga, Tenn. The Tennessee Department of Health's test results from two of the ill patients were positive for norovirus. FDA confirmed the presence of norovirus in shell oysters harvested from the West Karako Bay section of growing area 3 and served at the Tenn. restaurant.

Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals closed the affected growing area on Dec. 21. FDA is working with the states involved to determine if any additional actions may be necessary to ensure public health protection.

The original shipper of the oysters is Prestige Oyster Company of Theriot, La. The company shipped the oysters to Bon Secour Fisheries in Bon Secour, Ala. Bon Secour Fisheries, in turn, shipped the oysters to the restaurant in Chattanooga. Considering the shelf-life of the product, it is possible that suspect oysters from the designated area are still available in other retail and food service settings.

Symptoms of norovirus infection include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramping. Affected individuals often experience low-grade fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, and a general sense of tiredness. Most people show symptoms within 48 hours of exposure to the virus, with the illness lasting one to two days. However, the illness can become serious for the very young, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems.

Consumers who ate raw oysters on or after Dec. 3 and experienced these symptoms are encouraged to contact their health care providers and local health departments.

Consumers concerned about the origin of oysters they have recently purchased should contact the place of purchase to determine if the oysters were harvested from the identified area during the Dec. 3-21 period.