Here’s some ugly news. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is now an outbreak of norovirus illness that has already left at least 211 people sick. And the reason seems to be a lot of clams. Authorities are linking this outbreak to raw Texas oysters. As a result, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) ordered the recall of all oysters harvested from November 17, 2022 through December 7, 2022 from the TX 1 area in southeast Galveston Bay. The Texas DSHS terminated harvest from the TX Zone 1 on December 8th.
So if you’ve bought any oysters since November 17th, check your package – the package your oysters came in, that is. And look for any indication that the oysters may have been harvested in TX 1. If you don’t have a package, contact whoever sold you the oysters to determine their original source. If you find TX1 oysters, do not eat them. Dispose of them in a safe manner, that is, wrapped and disposed of in such a way that no one else can come into contact with them. You don’t want to catch norovirus. And you don’t want to give norovirus to others, no matter how much you don’t like them.
This is because, as I mentioned before Forbes, having norovirus illness and its associated symptoms is no walk in the park. You usually won’t be able to walk in the park when you’re dealing with bad diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and stomach pains that usually occur 12 to 48 hours after exposure to this virus. Of course, symptoms usually subside after one to three days. But these symptoms are usually more severe than your other more common gastroenteritis. Vomiting and diarrhea can be so bad that there can be a real risk of dehydration. So you should pay attention to your hydration status and call a medical professional if it becomes a problem.
The CDC stated that “norovirus is the leading cause of foodborne illness in the United States.” Indeed, a study conducted by our PHICOR team and published in the July 2020 issue. Journal of Infectious Diseases estimates that norovirus disease in the United States costs society more than $10 billion annually.
Oysters affected by the recall have gone to restaurants and retailers in at least eight states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. They may have ended up in additional states. So just because you’re not in one of these states doesn’t mean you can just go “suck it off” and not bother checking your oysters before you eat them.
In addition to checking where your oysters came from, the CDC suggests other precautions you can take. It is better to cook oysters thoroughly by heating them to at least 145 degrees for an extended period of time before consuming them. That’s 145 degrees Fahrenheit, not Celsius or Kelvin. Heating something to 145 degrees Celsius would mean heating it to 293 degrees Celsius, which would certainly be above 145 degrees Fahrenheit and above the boiling point of water. A temperature of 145 degrees Kelvin would be about minus 198 degrees Fahrenheit.
You should always wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water while handling oysters. Of course, you’ll rarely hear public health advice that says, “Don’t wash your hands frequently and thoroughly,” unless you happen to have chocolate covered hands. It is also important to quickly clean and disinfect any surfaces or objects that may have touched the oysters.
The other advice from the CDC is, “Do not prepare food or care for others when you are sick for at least two days after symptoms stop.” Yes, the last thing you want to do is tell your significant other, “Honey, I know you’re hunched over the toilet throwing up, but can you make sure you make dinner?’