Ocean currents tied to B.C. norovirus outbreak: CDC

The article says it’s still unclear if one or many sewage sources were involved

Researchers with the BC Centre for Disease Control may have pinpointed how a mysterious norovirus outbreak spread, forcing the closure of 13 West Coast oyster farms and curtailing operations at others as hundreds of Canadians fell ill.

An article published in the latest edition of the British Columbia Medical Journal says sewage is often the cause of ocean contamination and contaminants spread by currents affected oyster farms on the east and west coasts of Vancouver Island.

Researchers determined the norovirus outbreak began last November and made more than 400 people sick across Canada by March, but investigators were initially uncertain how a single source of the illness could affect such a huge area.

The article says it’s still unclear if one or many sewage sources were involved, but a wet fall and unseasonably cold winter could have enhanced norovirus survival and allowed oysters to retain tainted ocean sediments longer than usual.

The authors also say the outbreak disproves claims that shellfish is safe to eat between September and April — months containing an ‘r’ — noting that bacteria and viruses persist in cold seawater and marine biotoxins occur year-round.

Darlene Winterburn, executive director of B.C.’s Shellfish Growers Association, says the Public Health Authority of Canada declared the outbreak over in early May and all but one of the affected farms has reopened.

She says the article may offer answers to the recent outbreak, but an exact cause may never be identified and the industry continues to work with the Centre for Disease Control, Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the departments of Fisheries and Environment.

“The theories are very diverse and at this stage of the game, the unfortunate reality is that it is going to be very difficult to prove any because we don’t have (norovirus) in the water right now.”

She says the industry wants to learn from the outbreak and make changes to ensure it responds better, if it happens again.

Just Posted

BC BUDGET: Fare freeze and free travel for seniors on BC Ferries

A complete fare freeze will be put into place on major routes, and fares will be rolled back on smaller routes by 15 per cent

Driver of vehicle down 90-foot embankment rescued on Highway 5 near Hope

Rope rescue conducted on mutual-aid call with Chilliwack SAR, Hope SAR and Agassiz fire department

BC BUDGET: New spaces a step to universal child care

Fees reduced for licensed daycare operators

BC BUDGET: NDP cracks down on speculators, hidden ownership

Foreign buyers’ tax extended to Fraser Valley, Okanagan, Vancouver Island

BC BUDGET: Payroll tax replaces medical premiums

Health spending to increase $1.5 billion for drugs, primary care teams

VIDEO: Top 10 B.C. budget highlights

The NDP is focusing on childcare, affordable housing and speeding up the elimination of MSP premiums

BC Cattlemen’s Association calls for remediation of firebreaks to prevent erosion, spread of invasive species

Other concerns are fencing restoration and repair, and a lack of feed for cattle.

Yelling vulgar slur at reporter not a crime says judge

Judge rules ‘vulgar’ slur against reporter was not a public disturbance

New group for parents of overdose victims launched by Langley mother

There is a lack of long-term resources for grieving parents

B.C. runner takes silver at Pan American cross-country championships

Tyler Dozzi’s medal pushes U20 Team Canada to gold finish

Coquitlam piano teacher accused of sex assault involving former students

Police say Dmytro Kubyshkin has been teaching in private homes for more than 20 years

UBCO students to get medical cannabis coverage

Kelowna - The pilot project will be implemented in April

BC BUDGET: NDP push for purpose-built rentals in ‘historic’ $1.6B investment

Hundreds of thousands of new low- and middle-income units coming over three years

Most Read