TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that is investigating a new outbreak of norovirus linked to raw oysters sold in Florida and seven other states.
An updated CDC outbreak advisory said as of Thursday, 211 norovirus cases have been reported across Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas.
Officials said the outbreak appears to stem from oysters from harvest area TX 1 in Galveston Bay, Texas.
The affected oysters were harvested from Nov. 17 to Dec. 7 and were sold at retail and restaurant locations across the aforementioned states, but the CDC said they could have also been sent to other states as well.
On Dec. 9, Publix issued a recall after Texas health officials reported over 40 illnesses at the time. 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 about many cases, especially if people do not go to a doctor’s office or hospital.”
According to the CDC, there are about 2,500 norovirus outbreaks each year in the United States, mostly concentrated between November and April.
Norovirus symptoms can include diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and stomach pain. These symptoms can start within 12 to 48 hours of exposure to the virus.
Infected individuals typically get better within one to three days, but the disease does present a risk of dehydration that may need medical attention.
To prevent infection, the CDC said to cook oysters and other shellfish to at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit, wash fruits and vegetables before preparation, wash your hands thoroughly and often, and clean contaminated surfaces.