Croatia's top oyster farmers in alarm after norovirus found

MALI STON, Croatia — Oyster farming is the pride of this small town in the south of Croatia's Adriatic Sea coast. But tasting the famed local delicacy may not be a good idea at the moment.

Authorities have detected norovirus, which causes diarrhea and vomiting, in parts of the Mali Ston bay — triggering shock and alarm among the breeders.

The traditional oyster-tasting feast in March has been canceled and fears are mounting of huge financial losses to the local community that harvests about 3 million oysters each year.

Experts are pointing their fingers at the outdated sewage system in the area that has seen a rise in the numbers of tourists flocking to Croatia's stunning Adriatic coast.

"I am really sorry but people themselves are to blame that something like this happened," explained Vlado Onofri from the Institute for Marine and Coastal Research in nearby Dubrovnik. "It's something that has to be solved in the future."

While some stomach bugs can be eliminated with cooking, norovirus survives at relatively high temperatures.

"The problem with oysters is that they are eaten raw," Onofri said.

Stunned locals pointed out their oysters are famous for high quality — a 1936 award from a London international exhibition still hangs on the wall in Svetan Pejic's La Koruna restaurant in Mali Ston.

"Our oyster here is really a special oyster ... and this is the only place (in the world) where it can be found," he insisted. "Everyone wants to take our oysters and try to breed them elsewhere."

Navigating the oyster fields in their small boats, the farmers proudly show visitors rows and rows of oyster-filled underwater farm beds spreading through the bay.

Top municipal official Vedran Antunica questioned the assumption that the local sewage system was to blame for the outbreak.

"Viruses are everywhere, now as we speak, the air is full of viruses," Antunica said. "We had the same sewage system in the past, so why wasn't it (norovirus) recorded? What has changed?"

Must Read

Plácido Domingo to perform for first time since...

Aug 25, 2019

Plácido Domingo returns to stage at the Salzburg Festival in his first appearance since nine women...

Ice packs: Cigarette smugglers find frozen route...

Jan 19, 2018

US-LITHUANIA-SMUGGLING:Ice packs: Cigarette smugglers find frozen route to Lithuania

Russian Orthodox church calls on UN for help in...

Dec 14, 2018

The Russian Orthodox Church has called on the United Nations, the leaders of Germany and France,...

Ukraine OKs property law that could affect 12,000...

Jan 17, 2019

Ukraine's parliament has adopted a bill spelling out procedures for transferring church property...

Tajani elected president of European Parliament

Jan 17, 2017

Antonio Tajani of the EPP Christian Democrat group was elected president of the European Parliament...

Sign up now!

The Healthier Web delivers accurate and up-to-date health information through medical content and insights from experts. Feel the ‘ohm’ here in The Healthier Web.

Contact us: sales[at]thehealthierweb.com