Today the Louisiana Department of Health ordered the closure of molluscan shellfish harvesting Area 3 in St. Bernard parish. The closure takes effect at sunset, Thursday, March 25.
State Health Officer Dr. Jimmy Guidry signed the closure order when the Department was notified of a possible Norovirus outbreak in New Orleans. Several people became ill over the weekend after eating raw oysters harvested from Area 3. LDH is investigating to determine whether the oysters are to blame for the outbreak.
Norovirus is a virus that causes the “stomach flu.” Effects of the virus usually begin 24-48 hours after exposure. Symptoms, which last for one to two days on average, can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramping. Occasional symptoms may include low-grade fever, chills, headache, muscle aches and tiredness. Norovirus can be contracted several ways, including by eating food or drinking liquids contaminated by infected food handlers. Outbreaks have occurred from eating undercooked oysters harvested from contaminated waters--cooking kills the virus.
LDH has notified local oyster harvesters that work in the affected areas, as well as the Louisiana Oyster Task Force, and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.
The Louisiana Department of Health strives to protect and promote health statewide and to ensure access to medical, preventive and rehabilitative services for all state citizens. To learn more about LDH, visit http://www.dhh.louisiana.gov.