FDA Warns Against Eating Raw Texas Oysters After Virus Outbreak; 25 Sickened

Saturday, March 3rd 2007, 2:35 pm
By: News On 6

HOUSTON (AP) _ The Food and Drug Administration says consumers should avoid eating raw oysters harvested from San Antonio Bay in Texas because more than two dozen people in Maryland became ill last month.

The FDA said 25 people developed nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and other symptoms after eating raw Texas oysters at a food event in Maryland during Feb. 9-11.

Testing by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene indicated they had contracted norovirus, the FDA said. The virus can cause flu-like symptoms that may linger for several days, health officials said.

The oyster beds in San Antonio Bay were shut down by the Texas Department of Health Services on Feb. 24 and remain closed while the FDA investigates.

Doug McBride, spokesman for the Texas Department of Health, said Saturday that the contamination did not appear to be widespread. The department has tested the bay's water and did not find any problems, he said.

McBride said the virus could have occurred anywhere along the oysters' route from their habitat to diners, including the bay, dock, boat, dealers and food handlers.

In its warning issued late Friday, the FDA said two distributors _ Bayview Seafood of Seadrift, Texas, and Rose Bay Oyster Company of Swanquarter, N.C. _ have issued voluntary recalls of oysters from San Antonio Bay. The recalled oysters are marked with tags that read: ``Gal 1, 2/2/07.''