What the hell? The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) just issued an alert that raw oysters may be contaminated with sapoviruses. It’s a number two warning in two different ways. First, the alert covers oysters harvested on February 6, 2022 in designated area number II in the Republic of Korea. And second, taking sapovirus can make you number two in a bad way, like lots and lots of diarrhea.
This contamination has Dai One Food Company, Ltd. prompted to recall all potentially affected frozen half-shell oysters. The company had exported and shipped such oysters to 13 different US states: Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. So if you’ve been feeling like some pretty shellfish and bought some oysters, you might want to double check where the oysters came from before putting them in your mouth or any other part of your body. Eating a contaminated oyster can make you oy vey soon.
That’s because you don’t want to put a sapovirus in your mouth. The virus is one of them Caliciviridae Family which is a family of non-enveloped, single-stranded RNA viruses. Sapoviruses are quite similar to another member of this family that you may have heard of: noroviruses. And being similar to norovirus is usually not a good thing. If your date happens to mention, “You really remind me of norovirus,” don’t expect a second date. Sapoviruses are very contagious, not in the personality sense, but in the sense that it only takes a small amount of the virus to get sick. Norovirus and sapovirus together are the most common causes of acute gastroenteritis worldwide.
Having acute gastroenteritis is not a nice thing. Symptoms usually begin about 12 to 48 hours after the sapovirus goes down your hatch. You may soon experience diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and stomach pain. Other common symptoms are fever, headache and body aches. Such symptoms often last one to four days. However, younger children, older adults, and people with weaker immune systems may have an even harder time.
There is no real treatment for sapovirus infection. Taking antibiotics is useless and can only harm you when you are looking for more antibiotic-resistant bacteria, much like wearing a velor tracksuit to a job interview in a rainstorm. All you really have is supportive care trying to stay well hydrated while things get out of you both ends.
You can catch the sapovirus by eating contaminated food. Sapoviruses also often spread via the fecal-oral route, which is a nicer way of saying poop-to-mouth. While you might say, “But I don’t eat feces,” if you don’t wash your hands frequently and thoroughly, feces exist. If you are infected with the virus, your stool and vomit can contain a lot of virus. Touching such infectious substances and then touching other things, in turn, can spread around the contamination fairly quickly.
Officials at the Southern Nevada Health District realized they had a big problem when they noticed a spike in cases of gastrointestinal illness in Las Vegas. In fact, there were two clusters, one on October 28th and the other on November 5th. In other words, in a town known for its craps, there have been a number of cases of, well, you get the point. All of the people who got sick had previously eaten raw oysters at a Las Vegas restaurant. In all, there was one confirmed and nine potential sapovirus infections in Las Vegas.
So if you want to eat some oysters, first check that they are not from Designated Area Number II on February 6, 2022. Otherwise, you could soon have problem number two. Should your oysters fall under the recalled list, safely dispose of them or send them back for a refund. Disposing of them safely doesn’t mean feeding them to your roommate. It means wrapping them in such a way that they cannot contaminate other items. Oh, and if you’re thinking that dousing the oysters in hot sauce or drinking alcohol at the same time will keep your oysters safe, it’s snot. Neither will kill enough of the virus or get the virus too drunk to infect you.
The world can be at your feet. But you should make sure that your world does not contain a sapovirus. If you take an “oh shit” attitude towards someone who serves you contaminated oysters, you will regret it in the end.