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Updated November 22, 2017

  • Public Health has learned of an additional three persons from three separate meal parties who became ill with symptoms consistent with norovirus after consuming food and beverage that included a variety of raw oysters during the November 11 event.

  • Stool samples collected from three ill persons that ate raw oysters served at the event tested positive for norovirus.

  • The Washington State Department of Health Shellfish program is working to identify the growing areas for the implicated oysters. However, there are a large number of growing areas that supplied oysters consumed at the event, making it very difficult to pinpoint one single common oyster bed.

Posted November 16, 2017

Highlights

  • Public Health is currently investigating an outbreak of gastroenteritis with nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea associated with Elliott’s Oyster House Annual Oyster event on November 11, 2017.

  • On November 13, Public Health learned of nine persons from two different meal parties that became ill after consuming food and beverage that included a variety of raw oysters during the November 11 event. On November 15, we were informed of an additional ill person.

  • We do not have laboratory confirmation of the etiology, but symptoms are suggestive of norovirus. Often in norovirus outbreaks, no laboratory testing is done.

  • While we suspect oysters as the likely source of illness, the investigation is ongoing. It is not uncommon for norovirus outbreaks to have multiple contaminated food items.

About Norovirus

  • Norovirus is a highly contagious virus that frequently spreads person-to-person and is often associated with food. Norovirus illness often has a sudden onset of nausea and vomiting and/or watery diarrhea with cramps. A low-grade fever, chills, and body aches sometimes occur.

  • Norovirus rarely causes severe complications. Dehydration is the most common complication, particularly among young children and the elderly. No vaccine is available for norovirus.

  • Shellfish such as oysters, clams, and mussels are filter feeders. They ingest norovirus if it is present in the water. Though all shellfish can be a source of norovirus infection if consumed raw or undercooked, oysters are much more commonly consumed raw than other shellfish.

  • For more information see our previous blog post on norovirus and shellfish:
    Love oysters? Pay attention to this warning, Public Health Insider
AT-A-GLANCE

Cases: 13
Hospitalizations: 0
Deaths: 0
Status: Ongoing

PUBLIC HEALTH ACTIONS

November 22, 2017

  • Environmental Health inspectors revisited the restaurant on November 17 and did not find any additional factors that could contribute to the spread of norovirus.
  • The restaurant management is working cooperatively with Public Health and has thoroughly cleaned and sanitized the restaurant.

November 16, 2017

  • As part of the Public Health investigation, on 11/15, Environmental Health investigators visited the restaurant where the oysters were consumed to determine the source(s) of the oysters and to how they are prepared and served. The oyster tags were collected and sent to the Washington Department of Health for traceback and investigation of growing areas. No additional risk factors were identified at the restaurant.

  • Environmental Health inspectors plan to revisit the restaurant to ensure that there are no other factors present that could contribute to the spread of norovirus.
LOCATION

Elliott's Oyster House
1201 Alaskan Way
Seattle, WA 98101


Prevention

General advice for reducing risk of contracting norovirus:

  1. Because raw seafood can be contaminated with norovirus, always cook shellfish and other seafood thoroughly before eating
  2. Wash hands, cutting boards, and counters used for food preparation immediately after use to avoid cross contaminating other foods.
  3. Wash hands thoroughly with soap after using the bathroom or changing diapers, and before preparing any food or eating.
  4. Wait at least 48 hours after the last episode of vomiting and/or diarrhea before preparing any food for others.

More information about Norovirus

  1. Norovirus facts, Public Health – Seattle & King County
  2. Norovirus facts, Foodsafety.gov
  3. Love oysters? Pay attention to this warning, Public Health Insider