What is that ? The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has just issued a warning about raw oysters potentially contaminated with sapoviruses. This is warning number two in two different ways. First, the warning relates to oysters that were harvested on February 6, 2022 from designated area number II in the Republic of Korea. And, second, ingesting sapovirus can make you go number two the wrong way, as in many diarrheas.
This contamination prompted Dai One Food Company, Ltd. to recall all potentially affected frozen half oysters. The company had exported and shipped these oysters to 13 different US states: Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee or Virginia. So if you’ve been feeling nice shells and buying oysters, you might want to check where the oysters come from before you put them in your mouth or any other part of your body, for that matter. Consuming a contaminated oyster can quickly make you lose your mind.
It’s because you don’t want to put sapovirus in your mouth. The virus belongs to Caliciviridae family, which is a family of non-enveloped single-stranded RNA viruses. Sapoviruses are quite similar to another member of this family you may have heard of: noroviruses. And being similar to noroviruses is generally not a good thing. If your date mentions “you really remind me of norovirus,” don’t expect a second date. Sapoviruses are highly contagious, not in a personality sense, but in the sense that it only takes a small amount of virus to make you sick. Noroviruses and sapoviruses combined are the most common causes of acute gastroenteritis worldwide.
Having acute gastroenteritis is not a cute thing. Symptoms tend to start about 12 to 48 hours after the sapovirus has come down from your outbreak. You may soon develop diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and stomach pain. Other common symptoms include fever, headache, and body aches. These symptoms often last from one to four days. However, young children, older adults, and those with weaker immune systems may have even more trouble coping.
There is no real cure for a sapovirus infection. Taking antibiotics is useless and can only harm you by breeding bacteria that are more resistant to antibiotics, much like wearing a velor tracksuit to a job interview in torrential rain. All you really have is supportive care, trying to stay well hydrated while things are coming out of you from both ends.
You can catch the sapovirus by eating contaminated food. Sapoviruses are also often spread through the fecal-oral route, which is a nicer way to say poo-to-mouth. Although you can say “but I don’t eat poo”, if you don’t wash your hands frequently and thoroughly, there is poop. When you are infected with the virus, your stools and vomiting can carry much of the virus. Touching such infectious substances and then touching other things can in turn spread the contamination quite easily around.
Southern Nevada Health District officials realized they had a big problem when they noticed a cluster of gastrointestinal illness cases in Las Vegas. In fact, there were two clusters, one on October 28 and the other on November 5. In other words, in a city known for its craps, there were a bunch of instances of, well, you get the picture. All of the people who fell ill had previously consumed raw oysters at a restaurant in Las Vegas. In total, there has been one confirmed and nine potential sapovirus illnesses in Las Vegas.
So if you are going to eat oysters, first check that they are not from designated area number II on February 6, 2022. Otherwise, you may soon have problem number two. If your oysters fall under those subject to a recall, dispose of them safely or return them for a refund. Safely throwing them away doesn’t mean giving them to your roommate. This means wrapping them up so they cannot contaminate other objects. Oh, and if you think dipping oysters in hot sauce or drinking alcohol at the same time is going to keep your oysters safe, that’s snot. Neither will kill the virus enough or make the virus too drunk to infect you.
The world can be your oyster. But you need to make sure your world is sapovirus free. If you take an “aw shucks” attitude towards someone who serves you tainted oysters, you’re going to regret it in the end.