Reports of norovirus-like symptoms have been traced to oysters grown at Hammersley Inlet in Mason County, prompting a recall of any shellfish harvested there since March 15, according to the state Department of Health.
The affected area is a 3-mile stretch of commercial shellfish beds, harvested by 31 companies. Shellfish from the area is shipped to several states and countries. Shellfish growers and the Department of Health are working with local health jurisdictions and other states to track down all harvested product to make sure it is not consumed.
“We are actively evaluating all potential pollution sources in the area to determine what is causing the contamination,” said Rick Porso, director of the Office of Environmental Health and Safety. “The area will remain closed until we can assure that public health is protected.”
Norovirus is a common stomach virus that spreads easily through contaminated food, surfaces and person-to-person contact. The source of norovirus is people — specifically, the feces and vomit of infected individuals. The virus can get into marine water through boat discharges, failing septic systems, malfunctioning wastewater treatment plants or from an infected person.
Symptoms include watery diarrhea, vomiting and stomach pain. Most people get better within two days.
Ordering and eating cooked shellfish is an effective way to prevent norovirus, according to the state Department of Health.
People who gather their own shellfish should always check the shellfish safety map to learn about closures or health warnings.