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What is norovirus and how can Canadians avoid it? – National

Yearly, about 300 to 400 outbreak circumstances of norovirus are reported to the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC). Many usually go unreported in food-service settings reminiscent of eating places, catering occasions and cruise ships, in line with the well being company.

In March 2022, there was an outbreak of norovirus and gastrointestinal diseases associated to uncooked oysters in British Columbia, the place a complete of 339 circumstances have been reported. A few months later, on June 1, one other outbreak of norovirus associated to identify prawns was reported. By June 10, there have been 60 circumstances.

Noroviruses are a gaggle of viruses that trigger gastroenteritis. Signs of norovirus sickness embody diarrhea, nausea, abdomen cramps, low-grade fever, headache, chills, muscle aches and fatigue, in line with Well being Canada.

Learn extra:

Norovirus warning issued as 50 people fall ill after eating raw B.C. oysters in 1 week

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The well being company states that norovirus spreads via direct contact with contaminated people, reminiscent of caring for or diapering an unwell little one, sharing meals or utensils with an unwell particular person, touching surfaces or objects contaminated with norovirus, or consuming meals or ingesting water that has been contaminated.

Though norovirus outbreaks are extra widespread within the fall and winter months, the Public Well being Company of Canada (PHAC) has launched a number of well being notices relating to norovirus outbreaks lately. The Canadian Meals Inspection Company (CFIA) has additionally issued meals remembers associated to doable norovirus contamination of seafood and raspberries over the previous few months.

Most lately, on June 18 the CFIA issued meals remembers for a number of Revive Superfood model smoothies and oats merchandise as a consequence of doable norovirus contamination within the raspberries utilized in them.

Learn extra:

Revive Superfoods products recalled due to possible norovirus contamination

When are you able to catch norovirus?

Whereas infections related to norovirus often peak throughout winters, that doesn’t imply norovirus just isn’t a problem for summer time months, says Siyun Wang, an assistant professor of meals security engineering on the School of Land and Meals System on the College of British Columbia.

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“When persons are consuming uncooked seafood, they must be effectively conscious of the danger [of norovirus],” mentioned Wang. “In summer time, microorganisms, particularly for micro organism, have a tendency to really develop quicker when temperatures are increased.”

Since shellfish are filter feeders — they pressure small items of prey and meals particles which will include biotoxins from shifting water— they generally tend to build up toxins inside them, Wang explains.

“Among the many shellfish, I might most likely say oysters do pose a a lot increased threat [of norovirus] as a result of many individuals like consuming oysters with out cooking them,” mentioned Wang.

Wang says that norovirus contamination of sea life could be very strongly related to human actions as it’s a human-borne virus.

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Click to play video: 'What you need to know about the norovirus, gastrointestinal illnesses linked to raw oysters'

What it’s essential to know concerning the norovirus, gastrointestinal diseases linked to uncooked oysters

What it’s essential to know concerning the norovirus, gastrointestinal diseases linked to uncooked oysters – Apr 19, 2018

A 2018 study by the BC Centre for Ailments Management discovered that sewage from fishing boats contaminated some oyster farms on Vancouver Island, inflicting the 2018 norovirus outbreaks.

“As a result of norovirus can truly be carried by people, the sewage which can be discharged to the ocean water can probably have a really excessive stage of viral particles,” mentioned Wang.

Learn extra:

48 cases of norovirus, gastrointestinal illness linked to spot prawns across Canada: PHAC

Ian Younger, an affiliate professor within the College of Occupational and Public Well being at Toronto Metropolitan College, provides an instance of how oysters are uncovered to norovirus contamination.

He says the water the place the contaminated oysters are harvested might be from “some sort of human sewage launch,” — presumably a sewer overflow occasion in cities after excessive rainfalls.

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Younger says there may be “a problem with the wastewater therapy amenities by which some quantity of untreated or minimally handled sewage” get launched to the water, contaminating harvest areas.

Though the supply of contamination of the lately recalled raspberries merchandise is but to be recognized, in line with Well being Canada, foodborne outbreaks of norovirus sickness probably occur when meals is contaminated by contaminated meals handlers, particularly if they don’t wash their palms correctly after utilizing the toilet.

How can Canadians keep away from an infection from norovirus?

Younger says to keep away from getting contaminated with norovirus, customers ought to examine if there are any remembers earlier than buying merchandise.

In line with Wang, cooking is “most likely one of the best ways to really eliminate these pathogens,” nevertheless, some research have proven that even cooking can’t 100 per cent eradicate norovirus.

“That’s truly one other very difficult factor about norovirus as a result of it’s general a really cussed pathogen that’s actually onerous to eliminate,” mentioned Wang. “However that being mentioned, it’s nonetheless going to make the seafood a lot safer [to consume] by cooking them totally.”

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In line with Health Canada, noroviruses are capable of survive comparatively excessive ranges of chlorine and completely different temperatures.

“They’ll survive on virtually any floor, together with door handles, sinks, railings and glassware,” the well being company states on its web site. “On onerous surfaces, they’ve been discovered to outlive for as much as 12 hours. On contaminated carpet, noroviruses have been discovered to outlive for as much as 12 days.”

Click to play video: 'Source of B.C.-based norovirus outbreak traced'

Supply of B.C.-based norovirus outbreak traced

Supply of B.C.-based norovirus outbreak traced – Jul 3, 2017

Wang provides that it may be particularly dangerous if people harvest their very own shellfish as a result of usually contamination closure notices go ignored.

“Fisheries and Oceans Canada even have indicators set as much as remind individuals to not fish in sure (coastal) areas,” she mentioned. “These areas are extra closely contaminated and seafood that’s harvested from these areas is extra more likely to have a better stage of contamination or biotoxins or bacterial pathogens.”

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The fisheries company advises Canadians to at all times examine for marine biotoxin and sanitary contamination closures within the areas the place they need to harvest shellfish, noting that “closures can change usually all year long.”

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