Researchers have discovered that around 75% of oysters grown in Britain contain the norovirus. The figures have come out of the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and have shown that three quarters of growing beds in the UK were infected with the virus. The virus is capable of causing vomiting and diarrhoea even at low levels and these were found in over half of the samples that were gathered.
The FSA said that the health consequences of this are yet unknown because it is not possible to tell which of the virus types are infectious and which are not. The study is going to help the European Commission decide what level of the virus should be considered safe in oysters.
The head scientist of the FSA is Andrew Wadge and he has said, “This data is going to help us work out ways to reduce the number of viruses that we find in shellfish. We are going to be working with the European authorities to decide on a safe level of the virus that can be found in shellfish.”
In the study, samples were taken from nearly 40 harvesting areas in the UK. David Lees who was also involved in the study has said, “This is a real problem in the oyster industry and in order to introduce regulations we need to look at the key risks associated with this virus.” The norovirus is also known as the winter vomiting bug and in the UK and around 700,000 people each year are affected by it.