Louisiana health officials are recalling oysters and closing an oyster harvesting area in Terrebonne Parish after 14 people became ill eating oysters at a New Orleans restaurant.
The recall is confined to a molluscan shellfish harvesting area in Terrebonne Parish, in the southeast part of the state on the Gulf Coast, and includes all oysters harvested from a particular basin there since April 26.
The recalls includes shucked, frozen, breaded, post-harvest processed and oysters for the halfshell market, the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals said Tuesday. The agency said it moved quickly to issue the recall.
Fourteen patrons of a New Orleans-area restaurant became ill with stomach viruses after eating at the establishment, which was not named, on April 28 or April 29. The illnesses were not life-threatening and nobody was hospitalized, the agency said.
Epidemiologists and sanitarians with the department were able to trace the stomach virus outbreak to Louisiana oysters consumed at the same restaurant. They were harvested from Area 23 in Basin 12 in Terrebonne.
The recall order went into effect Tuesday and Area 23 is expected to be closed for at least three weeks, according to Louisiana health officials.
Mike Voison of the Wildlife and Fisheries Commission and Louisiana Oyster Task Force, told the Houma Courier that the closure was in an area damaged by flooding last year and there were fewer oysters harvested there than is the norm.
It's never a good thing when an area is closed, but it was a very small recall, Voisin told the paper. This is a safety net that protects public health, and once in a while there's the net has a break. The state did their inspections, followed through and isolated it to a small area.
Symptoms of norovirus, or the stomach virus or stomach flu, as it is commonly known, include vomiting and diarrhea and usually manifest within 24 to 48 hours of infection. Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramping are common symptoms. Other symptoms include low-grade fever, chills, headache, muscle aches and a general sense of tiredness.