BREAKING NEWS – Sickness in Tennessee traced to Miss. oysters

Published 6:45 pm Friday, March 20, 2009

Officials say norovirus infection had been reported among patrons at a Tennessee restaurant that served oysters harvested in Mississippi coastal waters.

The Mississippi Department of Marine Resources said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Tennessee officials reported the link between the restaurant illnesses and oysters harvested on Feb. 24 in the Conditionally Approved Area 2-C Shellfish Growing Waters in the Pass Christian area.

Those oysters were recalled and no problems were reported with oysters harvested in other Mississippi waters. The department did not identify where in Tennessee the problem occurred or provide information about those who became ill.

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Norovirus symptoms include nausea, vomiting, head and stomach ache and fatigue.

Oysters are no longer being harvested in Area C-2 and Mississippi officials said the area will remain closed until it is determined oysters are safe.

Marine Resources Department officials said that because the virus can persist in the environment for extended periods, and as a safety precaution, it has advised that oysters harvested from Area 2-C between Feb. 25 and March 17 should not be consumed without thorough cooking.

Shippers and processors should advise their clients and customers of the potential risks of handling and consuming oysters harvested from Area 2-C during the period in question, officials said.

“Additionally, pursuant to the guidelines of the National Shellfish Sanitation Program, the MDMR is advising shippers and processors that have handled oysters harvested from Growing Area 2-C on Feb. 24, 2009, to initiate a voluntary recall of the suspected oysters,” the department said in a statement.

Officials said 4,728 sacks of oysters were harvested from Area 2-C on that day.

Mississippi’s Marine Resources Department said it is possible suspect oysters are still available in other retail and food service settings, including frozen products.

On the Net:

Mississippi Department of Marine Resources,