According to the Washington State Department of Health, the recall affects oysters and shellfish harvested since March 15 from the growing areas, including the Hammersley Inlet, which is farmed by 31 companies.
Until the health department can determine the cause of norovirus in the oysters, the areas will remain closed.
“We are actively evaluating all potential pollution sources in the area to determine what is causing the contamination,” said Rick Porso, Director of the Office of Environmental Health and Safety. “This issue underscores the importance of protecting our marine water, especially in areas where shellfish are grown.”
Companies that harvest the inlets will contact their customers about the recall and any additional details or instructions, according to the department.
Norovirus is a common stomach virus that spreads easily through contaminated food or surfaces and person-to-person contact. The virus can be present in marine water indirectly through boat discharges, failing septic systems, malfunctioning wastewater treatment plants, or directly from an infected person. Because shellfish are filter feeders, they can concentrate the virus and infect individuals that consume them raw or undercooked.
Norovirus symptoms include watery diarrhea, vomiting, dehydration and stomach pain. If you are concerned about an increased risk of illness, ordering and eating cooked shellfish is an effective way to prevent norovirus.