« | Home | »

Cook your oysters

Tags: |

With two million cases in the UK every year, norovirus exceeds all other causes of diarrhoea and vomiting by many orders of magnitude. If a malevolent person had set out to create it as the nastiest virus known, their only disappointment would be a lethality failure; the vast majority of victims get better after two or three days without specific treatment. Just as well, because there isn’t one.

But in everything else the virus is a success. Only a tiny number of virus particles need to be ingested to start an infection. They are very tough, can survive on a contaminated surface for weeks, and are not killed by the usual mild kinds of domestic disinfectant. The immunity given by an infection is short lived. And the virus’s speciality is projectile vomiting, often without warning. As the virus is in the vomit, the hit rate in a crowded room is high. If a chef is caught short in the kitchen and is sick into the sink, exposed food will be contaminated. Aerosols from violent vomiting travel. The virus is in the diarrhoea as well. That is why oysters are high risk. Human sewage is a delicacy for them. As filter feeders they concentrate the virus in their flesh. Eat them cooked.

Outbreaks on cruise ships and in hotels are notorious. Eight prison outbreaks have been recorded so far this season. Norovirus is a nightmare for hospitals. It spreads easily in the best-run wards. The only response is to isolate the infected, close the ward and carry out a deep clean. In the current norovirus season (which runs from July to June to include the winter peak in a single year) 291 closures have been recorded in England and Wales. Last season there were 1291. This year norovirus started early and with vigour. Nobody knows why. A vaccine is years away, if ever.

Comments on “Cook your oysters”

  1. criticalbill says:

    I read this thinking you were talking about some PANDEMIC OUTBREAK TO DEVASTATE THE NATION, not a couple of days puking. Cook your oysters?? Come on. We’re nowhere near cook your oysters.

  2. Rikkeh says:

    LRB does a better class of health scare.

  3. Amateur Emigrant says:

    Fried in a light beer batter they are delicious. All the same, it was a cooked one that had me firing with both barrels a few years ago, so it’s far from foolproof.

  4. michael barker says:

    I have been enjoying oysters at my local restaurant, the famous Brasserie Wepler, Place de Clichy (established 1892), for the past 12 years, surrounded by habitués. Never had a problem myself.

Comment on this post

Log in or register to post a comment.


  • Recent Posts

    RSS – posts

  • Contributors

  • Recent Comments

    • ianbrowne on Historic Failure: It seems extremely unlikely to me that Parliament can simply ignore the result of the vote. Whatever people may think about parliamentary sovereignty ...
    • FromArseToElbow on Historic Failure: "Couldn’t the elected government override the ‘will of the people’?" Yes, it could because our constitution is based on parliamentary rather tha...
    • West Briton on Not Unrolling but Unravelling: The great untruth of the whole Brexit movement was - and is - that it is the first great roar of English nationalism, the petulant, ill-conceived act ...
    • streetsj on Historic Failure: Sorry my post was not clear - I was agreeing with your complaint about the racists and fascists and calling them appalling not you or your comment. ...
    • Michael Carley on Not Unrolling but Unravelling: "Britain [recte United Kingdom], one of the oldest nation states in Europe" has actually only been in its present form since 1922. It was only founded...

    RSS – comments

  • Contact

  • Blog Archive

Advertisement Advertisement