Contaminated raw shellfish - more than 1,000 people sick in France
A total of 1,033 people in France have become ill after eating contaminated raw shellfish, 21 of these needed hospital treatment. Further European countries have reported illness which has been linked to live oysters from France. In Sweden for instance 31 people are sick.
The outbreak has spurred international recalls with products being recalled due to a risk of norovirus contamination in Luxembourg, Switzerland, Hong Kong and Singapore.
The link was made by patient interviews. Symptoms and incubation times indicate norovirus. Stool tests further confirmed the presence of norovirus in patients. Symptoms of norovirus appear one to two days after being infected and typically last for two or three days. Norovirus is transmitted by eating contaminated food or water or from person to person through contact with the skin, objects or inhaling airborne particles. The virus can live for a long period of time on surfaces such as counters and door knobs.
Some media outlets have indicated that the norovirus was caused by heavy rains causing sewage overflows into local waters, a representative of the regional shellfish committee in Brittany said a lack of adequate water treatment infrastructure was a constant problem for local aquaculture operations. Five separate bans on shellfish harvesting in the south Brittany region have been put in place since mid-December, affecting around 150 of 330 local aquaculture operations.
Training of staff in the importance of food safety is key in helping to reduce the risk of norovirus infection.