Norovirus

Oysters Are A Huge Breeding Ground For Stomach Flu Virus, Study Finds

Oysters are an important breeding ground for norovirus, the highly contagious bug that causes stomach flu, a recent study concluded.

We already knew that oysters can transmit norovirus to humans, particularly if eaten raw. But the new study, published last month in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology, proves oysters play a big role in harboring the virus and allowing it to spread.

The study analyzed the genetic sequences of more than 1,000 norovirus samples taken from oysters. The researchers found that more than 80 percent of known human norovirus strains matched the strains in oysters. What’s more, there was a “convergence” between new norovirus strains in oysters and those making the rounds in humans.

This means that oysters are likely helping to keep the stomach flu alive and well… and you, not-so-well.

Most virus-carrying oysters in the study came from coastal waters around the globe, and contamination from human sewage is most prevalent near coasts. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, however, points out that oysters can only legally be harvested in the U.S. in waters free from human fecal contamination, which means ilocally sourced oysters should be less likely to contain norovirus.

In 2011, three quarters of British oysters were found to contain norovirus. The best advice regarding consumption? Don’t eat raw oysters. You’ll likely prevent any bad bugs when you make sure they’re fully cooked, like this:

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Ferry Building, this airy, recently expanded oyster bar provides sweeping waterfront views of the Bay Bridge along with the company’s fresh shellfish pulled from nearby Tomales Bay. Chef Christopher Laramie’s menu features sustainably raised seafood like steamed Manila clams or semolina-dusted crispy smelts. Much of the produce is grown near the oyster farm.

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Located inside the Ferry Building, this airy, recently expanded oyster bar provides sweeping waterfront views of the Bay Bridge along with the company’s fresh shellfish pulled from nearby Tomales Bay. Chef Christopher Laramie’s menu features sustainably raised seafood like steamed Manila clams or semolina-dusted crispy smelts. Much of the produce is grown near the oyster farm.

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Chef Mike Lata focuses on East Coast oysters with a sprinkling of choices from the West Coast at this former bank building turned sleek seafood hall. “We have several oysters that we can get locally and two within an arm’s reach,” he explains, “and I like to serve them side by side to highlight their differences.” Wild Caper’s Blades oysters from South Carolina are available at the white tiled raw bar; pickled shrimp or poached razor clams, served cold with an apple cilantro and jalapeño sauce, are another menu favorite.

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Chef Mike Lata focuses on East Coast oysters with a sprinkling of choices from the West Coast at this former bank building turned sleek seafood hall. “We have several oysters that we can get locally and two within an arm’s reach,” he explains, “and I like to serve them side by side to highlight their differences.” Wild Caper’s Blades oysters from South Carolina are available at the white tiled raw bar; pickled shrimp or poached razor clams, served cold with an apple cilantro and jalapeño sauce, are another menu favorite.

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This cash-only dive’s specialty is Oysters Gilhooley, and it makes a persuasive case that the best oyster cookery comes from the Gulf region. Shucked oysters on the half shell are dotted with butter and hot sauce, dusted with Parmesan cheese, and then wood-roasted until browned. While the dish is a year-round hit, the raw shellfish pulled from Texas waters are best enjoyed in season during the colder months. 222 9th St.; (281) 339-3813.

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This cash-only dive’s specialty is Oysters Gilhooley, and it makes a persuasive case that the best oyster cookery comes from the Gulf region. Shucked oysters on the half shell are dotted with butter and hot sauce, dusted with Parmesan cheese, and then wood-roasted until browned. While the dish is a year-round hit, the raw shellfish pulled from Texas waters are best enjoyed in season during the colder months. 222 9th St.; (281) 339-3813.

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As an extension of Matunuck Oyster Farm, this seafood restaurant overlooks the estuary where the shellfish grow. After studying aquaculture at nearby University of Rhode Island, owner Perry Raso started farming oysters, eventually opening a place for diners to enjoy them. “We pride ourselves on doing clam shack fare, as well as more refined options,” explains Raso. While Matunuck’s own steely oysters served raw on the half shell are the focus, the bar also serves a few other varieties from the smallest state, side by side to highlight their subtle variations in flavor.

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As an extension of Matunuck Oyster Farm, this seafood restaurant overlooks the estuary where the shellfish grow. After studying aquaculture at nearby University of Rhode Island, owner Perry Raso started farming oysters, eventually opening a place for diners to enjoy them. “We pride ourselves on doing clam shack fare, as well as more refined options,” explains Raso. While Matunuck’s own steely oysters served raw on the half shell are the focus, the bar also serves a few other varieties from the smallest state, side by side to highlight their subtle variations in flavor.

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Family-owned Taylor Shellfish Farms already operates three oyster bar locations in Seattle, but the best ambience is found at its farm store 90 minutes north of the city. A day trip to this bay-side shack, tucked into the tall pine trees and rocky terrain, is ideal during the warmer months of the year. It provides little more than picnic tables and grills. Eaters are encouraged to shuck their own Shigokus and Kumamotos, but the store’s employees will do it for a small fee.

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Family-owned Taylor Shellfish Farms already operates three oyster bar locations in Seattle, but the best ambience is found at its farm store 90 minutes north of the city. A day trip to this bay-side shack, tucked into the tall pine trees and rocky terrain, is ideal during the warmer months of the year. It provides little more than picnic tables and grills. Eaters are encouraged to shuck their own Shigokus and Kumamotos, but the store’s employees will do it for a small fee.

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Are oysters aphrodisiacs? This is the place to find out, as Island Creek happens to be one of America’s most romantic restaurants. The muted color palette and massive wall of cages filled with oyster shells were inspired by the sunset over nearby Duxbury Bay—the location of owner Skip Bennett’s oyster farm. He and chef Jeremy Sewall highlight its bounty, along with shellfish from several nearby sources, and work closely with fishermen and farmers to secure local ingredients. The menu credits fellow oyster farmers like Don Wilkinson of Plymouth, Scott and Tina Laurie of Barnstable, and other purveyors by name.

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Are oysters aphrodisiacs? This is the place to find out, as Island Creek happens to be one of America’s most romantic restaurants. The muted color palette and massive wall of cages filled with oyster shells were inspired by the sunset over nearby Duxbury Bay—the location of owner Skip Bennett’s oyster farm. He and chef Jeremy Sewall highlight its bounty, along with shellfish from several nearby sources, and work closely with fishermen and farmers to secure local ingredients. The menu credits fellow oyster farmers like Don Wilkinson of Plymouth, Scott and Tina Laurie of Barnstable, and other purveyors by name.

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This institution within Grand Central Terminal serves about 2 million oysters annually to suited businessmen and tourists beneath its vaulted tiled ceilings. Open since 1913, the swanky bar has featured bivalves from all over the Western Hemisphere; a sign above the long wooden bar lists the day’s particular varieties. Its famed oyster pan roast, with gently cooked Blue Points floating in a cream sauce with chile and paprika, is one of the longest-running menu items in New York City.

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This institution within Grand Central Terminal serves about 2 million oysters annually to suited businessmen and tourists beneath its vaulted tiled ceilings. Open since 1913, the swanky bar has featured bivalves from all over the Western Hemisphere; a sign above the long wooden bar lists the day’s particular varieties. Its famed oyster pan roast, with gently cooked Blue Points floating in a cream sauce with chile and paprika, is one of the longest-running menu items in New York City.

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Best Oyster Bars in America

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