Canadian health authorities report investigating an outbreak of norovirus and gastrointestinal illnesses linked to the consumption of spot prawns.
Image/Public Health Agency of Canada
As of June 1, 2022, there have been 48 cases of norovirus and gastrointestinal illness reported in the following provinces: British Columbia (11), Alberta (12), Manitoba (19), and Ontario (6). Individuals became sick between mid-May and late-May 2022, and no deaths have been reported. Although not all cases of illness have been tested, laboratory testing has confirmed the presence of a norovirus infection.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is continuing its food safety investigation into the spot prawns associated with the illnesses under investigation. A food recall was issued on May 31, 2022 for several lot codes of live spot prawns that are associated with the illnesses under investigation.
Spot prawns contaminated with noroviruses may look, smell and taste normal. The following safe food-handling practices will reduce your risk of getting sick:
- Do not eat, use, sell, or serve the recalled spot prawns. Check to see if you have the recalled spot prawns at home. If you do, throw them out and wash your hands.
- Avoid eating raw or undercooked spot prawns.
- Eat spot prawns right away after cooking and refrigerate leftovers.
- Always keep raw and cooked spot prawns separate to avoid cross-contamination.
- Do not use the same plate or utensils for raw and cooked spot prawns.
- Wash your hands well with soap before and after handling any food.
- Be sure to clean and sanitize cutting boards, counters, knives and other utensils after preparing raw foods.
Noroviruses can be transmitted by ill individuals. Cleaning and disinfecting practices are the key to preventing further illnesses in your home.
- Thoroughly clean contaminated surfaces, especially after an episode of illness.
- After vomiting or diarrhea, immediately remove and wash clothing or linens that may be contaminated with the virus (use hot water and soap).
- If you have been diagnosed with norovirus illness or any other gastrointestinal illness, do not prepare food or pour drinks for other people while you have symptoms, and for the first 48 hours after you recover.
People with norovirus illness usually develop symptoms of gastroenteritis within 24 to 48 hours, but symptoms can start as early as 12 hours after exposure. The illness often begins suddenly. Even after having the illness, you can still become re-infected by norovirus.
The main symptoms of norovirus illness are:
- vomiting (children usually experience more vomiting than adults)
- stomach cramps
Other symptoms may include:
- low-grade fever
- muscle aches
- fatigue (a general sense of tiredness)
Most people feel better within one or two days, with symptoms resolving on their own, and experience no long-term health effects. As with any illness causing diarrhea or vomiting, people who are ill should drink plenty of liquids to replace lost body fluids and prevent dehydration. In severe cases, patients may need to be hospitalized and given fluids intravenously. If you have severe symptoms of norovirus, consult your healthcare provider.
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