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St. Paul, MN (KROC-AM News) - State health officials say more than two dozen Minnesotans have been sickened by a norovirus linked to oysters from British Columbia.

The Minnesota Department of Health is warning consumers not to eat raw oysters harvested from a specific body of water known as Bay 14-8. The 29 people affected by the norovirus in Minnesota had eaten raw oysters at Travail Kitchen in Robbinsdale on March 20 and developed gastroenteritis. An investigation determined the oysters were Stellar Bay Gold oysters that had been harvested 10 days earlier from Bay 14-8 in British Columbia.

“Travail Kitchen quickly brought the cases to our attention, and immediately stopped serving oysters,” said Duane Hudson, Hennepin County Public Health, Environmental Health manager. “We are grateful to Travail for their help in protecting the public from foodborne illnesses.”

A news release from the State Health Department says it is likely that oysters from that area are still in the marketplace and restaurants and distributors are being urged to discard oysters from the harvest area that was identified as the source of the oysters linked to the outbreak. It also says the virus can be destroyed by cooking the oysters to 145 degrees.

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The symptoms of gastroenteritis begin 12 to 48 hours after the infection is introduced and typically include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramps. State health officials note that there is currently a high level of norovirus activity in Minnesota and most of it is not associated with raw oysters.

They also stress that people with the illness can spread it to others even after their symptoms have ended. The news release says the best way to limit the spread of the virus is to thoroughly wash your hands after using the bathroom and before preparing food.

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