• Tony Bosworth

Coffin Bay Pacific oysters linked to potentially serious illness

If you’re about to tuck into some fresh oysters, check they are not from South Australia’s unfortunately named Coffin Bay because they’re the subject of a health alert just announced by NSW Health.

NSW Health and the NSW Food Authority are investigating an outbreak of Vibrio parahaemolyticus infections linked to the consumption of raw Pacific oysters from Coffin Bay.

Epidemiologist and Acting Director of NSW Health’s enteric investigation branch, Keira Glasgow, said a link had been established between the infection and Pacific oysters from Coffin Bay in South Australia, and urged people across NSW to stop consuming oysters from the Coffin Bay region of South Australia.

“NSW Health is aware of at least 15 people who have been diagnosed with Vibrio parahaemolyticus infection this month. Those who have been interviewed have reported recently eating raw Pacific oysters, which have been traced back to the Coffin Bay region of South Australia. Preliminary laboratory investigation suggests a link to cases identified in other states and territories,” said Ms Glasgow.

“The best way to prevent the infection at this moment is to not consume Pacific oysters from the Coffin Bay region of South Australia, until the cause is identified and controlled.”

Symptoms of Vibrio parahaemolyticus infection usually occur within 24 hours of eating contaminated food and can include:

  • watery diarrhoea (occasionally bloody diarrhoea)

  • abdominal cramps

  • nausea

  • vomiting

  • fever and/or

  • headache.

Most people recover with rest and fluids and symptoms are mild to moderate lasting around three days, but can be up to 12 days. Some people may require hospitalisation, especially in people with immunosuppression, such as those receiving cancer treatment.

As a precautionary measure, on Tuesday 16 November 2021 the Department of Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA) closed the oyster production areas of Coffin Bay.

NSW oysters are harvested in accordance with the NSW Shellfish Program providing the highest level of food safety.

NSW oysters are not involved in this outbreak and consumers can continue to eat our world-class NSW oysters with confidence, says NSW Health.

For more information visit: https://www.foodstandards.gov.au/industry/FoodIncidents/Pages/Vibrio-parahaemolyticus-and-raw-Pacific-oysters.aspx

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