Oyster farms are forced to close as authorities scramble to track down the source of a concerning gastro outbreak across Australia linked to raw seafood
- Gastro outbreak across Australia forces South Australia oyster farms to shut
- Production areas in Coffin Bay have been temporarily shut until early next week
- No oysters are permitted to leave the area during the shutdown period
- Vibrio parahaemolyticus infections linked to eating raw oyster’s has surged
- Residents warned to avoid eating raw undercooked seafood during the outbreak
A gastro outbreak across Australia linked to raw seafood has forced multiple oyster farms to close as authorities scramble to track down the source.
The Department of Primary Industries and Regions (PIRSA) closed production areas in‘s Coffin Bay on Tuesday as a ‘precautionary measure’.
Oyster farms are expected to remain shut until next week as an investigation gets underway into the cause of multiple gastroenteritis cases across the country.
Oyster farms in Coffin Bay, South Australia, have been forced to temporarily shut while an investigation is underway into Gastro outbreaks across the country (pictured, a Coffin Bay oyster farm)
No oysters are permitted to leave the area in the meantime.
In SA alone, 45 Vibrio parahaemolyticus cases have been linked to raw oysters since September – a huge spike compared to zero cases last year and eight in 2019.
Last Fridaywarned residents to avoid eating raw oysters as a result of 36 infections linked to the seafood in the last two months.
‘This increase in cases reported to us in such a short period of time is very concerning, ‘ Acting Director of Food and Controlled Drugs Branch, Joanne Cammans said.
‘Food-borne illnesses can be quite serious for more vulnerable people in our community, such as older South Australians, pregnant people and people with compromised immune systems.’
Vibrio parahaemolyticus infection causes symptoms of gastro, including diarrhoea, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, fever and headache.
SA has recorded 45 Vibrio parahaemolyticus infections linked to the consumption of raw oysters since September (pictured, Oyster farms in Coffin Bay off the Eyre Peninsular)
Ms Cammans added symptoms occur within 24 hours of eating undercooked seafood however raw oysters are often the most common cause of infections.
Similar health warnings were issued in Western Australia which reported 17 linked cases and Victoria where eight infections were recorded.
PIRSA Executive Director Nathan Rhodes said the department was working closely with industry leaders to ensure the best practices are used during the outbreak.
SA Health has warned vulnerable residents to avoid eating oysters (pictured) while an investigation is ongoing
‘The number of cases can vary substantially from year to year, and it is difficult to pinpoint the potential cause,’ Mr Rhodes said.
‘We are looking at potential factors that may have an influence on the recent cases, but the best international science has yet to determine a likely cause.
‘Inspections by PIRSA officers have found that food safety practices are being appropriately applied on farms.’
He advised to reduce the risk of infection, raw unshucked oysters should be kept at less than 10°C and shucked oysters at less than 5°C.
Vibrio parahaemolyticus is a bacteria found in marine and coastal waters predominantly in warm tidal areas where oysters grow.
The consumption of raw or undercooked shellfish, prawns, lobster, and crab can sometimes cause outbreaks of Vibrio parahaemolyticus gastroenteritis.
Vibrio parahaemolyticus is a bacterium found in marine, coastal and tidal waters, and most commonly causes gastroenteritis (gastro)
Eating raw oysters is the most common way the infection is spread
The infection does not usually spread from person to person, however, person-to-person spread is possible if there is poor personal hygiene
Symptoms include diarrhoea, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, fever and headache
Infection can be severe in people with immunosuppression, such as people receiving cancer treatment
Symptoms usually occur within 24 hours of eating the contaminated food and last around 3 days
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