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Croatia’s oyster-tasting season ruined by outbreak of norovirus

The Associated Press

Oyster farmer Branko Radic opens a shell in Mali Ston, southern Croatia, on Friday.

The Associated Press MALI STON, Croatia (AP) — 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Experts are pointing their fingers at the outdated sewage system in the area, which has seen a rise in the numbers of tourists flocking to Croatia’s stunning Adriatic coast.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.Speech

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