Oysters in BR safe to consume

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Louisiana is the top producer of oysters, and if people in Baton Rouge are concerned about eating them, the Department of Health and Hospitals says, "Don't be."

Area 23, which is around Terrebonne Parish will remain closed for 21 days after 14 people in the New Orleans area were infected with Norovirus after eating oysters.

A bed closure and people sick from raw and chargrilled oysters are keeping some people from a Louisiana favorite, but Dr. Jimmy Guidry with DHH wants to make it clear. Oysters in the Capital City are safe to eat.

"The area that these oysters came from, the people that were ill, none of those were delivered here in Baton Rouge," said Dr. Guidry.

According to DHH, 1,141 sacks of oysters came out of the infected area. 80 of those went to New Orleans, and 1,061 were shipped out across the country. All have since been recalled.

As for oysters at local restaurants, eat up!

"They're so tested, the state is watching them, and I've been buying from the same gentleman for 32 years," said Don's Seafood general manager Duke Landry.

"We get ours from the east side of the river. All the contaminated ones were from the west side of the river so not even close, not even in the same parish as where we get ours from," said Mike Anderson's general manager Dustin Loveless.

All of the oysters being shucked now are safe for everyone to enjoy.

"We love oysters, Louisiana oysters. We've never been sick, and we love them," said customer Carol Tillman.

The Oyster Task Force said the nearly 2 million oysters Louisiana produces every year, each goes through rigorous testing, and every oyster bed is tested on a regular basis.

"That determines whether the area can be opened or closed, but again, rarely but occasionally, there is a break in the safety net," said Oyster Task Force's Mike Voisin.

So when you see the oyster specials, don't drive off. It is safe to go inside and eat them raw or chargrilled because the Louisiana delicacy is almost out of season.

"Colder months are oyster months. Warmer months are not," said Landry.

The oysters from the infected area were also shipped to Georgia, Texas and Maryland, and were on their way to Missouri and Vegas. All have been recalled.

If for some reason you feel sick after eating oysters, the number to the Epidemiologist hotline is 1-800-256-2748.

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