Warning issued after illnesses possibly linked to raw oysters reported in LA County

David González Image
Thursday, January 18, 2024
Raw oyster warning after illnesses reported across SoCal
Health departments in Southern California are warning consumers after several reports of illnesses potentially linked to raw oysters.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Health departments in Southern California are warning consumers after several reports of illnesses potentially linked to raw oysters.

There are more than 150 suspected cases of gastrointestinal illness linked to raw oysters, likely caused by norovirus, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

Health officials are now warning consumers to ask restaurants where their raw oysters were harvested and to avoid those coming from certain parts of Mexico.

"At this time, Public Health is warning consumers not to eat raw oysters from Laguna De Guerrero Negro, Baja California, Mexico; Laguna Manuela, Baja California, Mexico; and Bahia Salina, Sonora, Mexico because they may be linked to outbreaks of norovirus illnesses in California," according to the L.A. County Department of Public Health.

Last week, there were 41 probable cases reported in San Diego County.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the oysters were packed by distributor Sociedad Acuicola GolPac in Sonora, Mexico last month.

Meanwhile, the city of Pasadena is working with the L.A. County Department of Public Health to investigate illness connected to raw oyster consumption in the area.

The Orange County Health Care Agency is also warning diners before placing their next order.

"It's very common to consume raw oysters, but just know that when you're consuming raw oysters you are potentially exposing yourself to different viruses or bacteria," health officer Dr. Regina Chinsio-Kwong said. "Sometimes when we have oysters that are harvested from certain areas, they may have really dangerous bacteria or virus. In this case we think it's norovirus."

Chinsio-Kwong is talking specifically about oysters harvested in Bahia Salina between Dec. 18 and Dec. 27 of last year.

She said the oysters may be contaminated with norovirus and were distributed to restaurants and retailers in California.

"If you do develop symptoms, typically it happens within 12-24 hours, sometimes longer, and usually you'll have nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and sometimes fever," she said.

Gastrointestinal illnesses linked to consuming raw oysters have been reported across Southern California.

OC Health Care Agency said five potential cases have been reported in county.

Chinsio-Kwong said norovirus is very contagious.

"It can be on surfaces, so if you touch it on a dirty surface and then you touch your eyes, your mouth or put your hands in your mouth then you can get it," she said.

"If you have it you can also contaminate surfaces in your home and other people in your household can get sick from it," she added.

Health experts say eating raw oysters is a gamble.

They recommend fully cooking them to kill off any bacteria.

Health officials also suggest exercising proper hygiene and cleaning all surfaces after handling oysters.