An outbreak of norovirus caused by consumption of oysters from geographically dispersed harvest sites, British Columbia, Canada, 2004.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES In January 2004, an increase in gastrointestinal illness following oyster consumption was reported in British Columbia. An investigation was initiated to explore the association between norovirus infection and consumption of British Columbia oysters and to identify the source of oyster contamination. METHODS The outbreak investigation included active surveillance for human cases, two cohort studies, trace-back of oysters, and laboratory testing of oysters and human stools. RESULTS Enhanced surveillance identified 26 confirmed and 53 clinical cases over 3 months. Oyster consumption was associated with illness in one cohort and suggestive in the other. Oysters were traced to 14 geographically dispersed harvest sites, 18 suppliers, and 45 points of purchase. Norovirus BCCDC03-028 (genotype I.2) was detected in 50% of human specimens. Experimental methods detected norovirus in 12 oyster samples. Sequencing identified mixed clonal patterns in the oysters with one direct sequence match between an oyster sample and the associated human specimen. CONCLUSIONS The consumption of raw oysters led to norovirus infection. The source of oyster contamination remained unidentified. The geographical dispersion of implicated harvest sites was unusual. APPLICATIONS This outbreak is unlike most shellfish outbreaks that can be traced back to a common source and challenges conventional thinking that all oyster-related norovirus outbreaks of are a result of point source contamination.

Cite this paper

@article{David2007AnOO, title={An outbreak of norovirus caused by consumption of oysters from geographically dispersed harvest sites, British Columbia, Canada, 2004.}, author={Samara T. David and Lorraine McIntyre and Laura Macdougall and Deirdre Kelly and Sing Liem and Klaus Schalli{\'e} and Alan McNabb and Alain Houde and Peter M{\"{u}ller and Pierre Ward and Y. Trottier and Julie Brassard}, journal={Foodborne pathogens and disease}, year={2007}, volume={4 3}, pages={349-58} }