TAMPA, Florida (wfla
) – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to investigate a recent norovirus outbreak linked to raw oysters harvested in Texas.
As of Thursday, 211 total cases of norovirus linked to raw oysters have been reported in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas, according to an updated outbreak advisory from the CDC. The agency also acknowledged that there are likely more than 211 cases, as some of the sufferers may not report or seek treatment for their illnesses.
Officials said the outbreak appears to come from oysters from the TX 1 harvest area in Galveston Bay, Texas.
The affected oysters were harvested between November 17 and December 7 and sold at retail stores and restaurants in the eight aforementioned states, though they may have been distributed to other states as well, the CDC said.
On December 9, Publix issued a recall after Texas health officials reported 40 illnesses. The chain said the oysters, which had a Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) of 29697000000, were sold at both Publix locations and Publix GreenWise markets.
The FDA later confirmed that the oysters were potentially contaminated with norovirus.
“Norovirus is the leading cause of foodborne illness in the United States,” the CDC said. “However, state, local and territorial health departments are not required to report individual cases of norovirus illness to a national surveillance system. That’s why we may not know of many cases, especially if people don’t go to the doctor’s office or hospital.”
According to the CDC, there are about 2,500 norovirus outbreaks each year in the United States, most concentrated between November and April. Norovirus symptoms can include diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and stomach pain. These symptoms can begin within 12 to 48 hours of exposure to the virus.
People who are older or pregnant and those with compromised immune systems are at higher risk of getting sick. Anyone experiencing symptoms of illness such as fever, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, chills, and headache should seek medical attention.
Infected people are also at risk of dehydration, health officials warn.
Anyone who believes they may have purchased a package of tainted Galveston Bay oysters is instructed to dispose of them. Those who purchased unpackaged oysters are encouraged to contact the seller to find out where they were harvested.
additional guidance for retailers, restaurants, and consumers is available on the CDC website.