- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 26, 2019

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (AP) - Health officials in Virginia have closed part of the James River in the Newport News area to shellfish harvesting after significant flooding.

Virginia Department of Health announced Tuesday that since floodwaters can be contaminated with pollutants such as pathogenic bacteria and viruses, shellfish from the affected area are unacceptable for consumption. Officials say eating shellfish from the closed areas could cause gastrointestinal illnesses including norovirus, hepatitis A and shigellosis.

The temporary emergency closure affects filter-feeding bivalve mollusks including oysters and clams, but not crabs or fin fish, in the lower river and its tributaries upstream from the James River Bridge. The closure is in effect through March 8. Officials say they’ll monitor water quality and reopen the area earlier if it is safe.

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