Department of Health

Gastroenteritis linked to consumption of raw Pacific oysters from Coffin Bay, South Australia

Health advisory

Status:
Active
Advisory number:
211116
Date issued:
19 Nov 2021 - Update to Advisory issued 16 November 2021
Issued by:
Adjunct Clinical Professor Brett Sutton, Chief Health Officer
Issued to:
Victorian consumers and health professionals

Key messages

  • Public health investigations across Australia have detected cases of gastroenteritis caused by Vibrio parahaemolyticus, linked to eating raw Pacific oysters (fresh or frozen) from Coffin Bay, SA.
  • There have been 31 cases of Vibrio parahaemolyticus infection notified in Victoria since 8 October 2021.
  • Until the cause of this infection is identified and controlled, the best way to prevent the infection is to not consume Pacific oysters from Coffin Bay, SA
  • Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, fever, abdominal pain, headache, and muscle aches, that typically occur within 24 hours of eating the contaminated food.
  • Symptoms can be more severe in the elderly and people who are immunocompromised.
  • Anyone recovering from gastroenteritis should avoid visiting high risk facilities, such as hospitals, childcare centres, and aged care facilities, until at least 48 hours after symptoms have resolved to avoid spreading the infection to those most vulnerable.

What is the issue?

The Department of Health has been notified of 31 people with gastroenteritis caused by Vibrio parahaemolyticus since 8 October 2021. Further cases have been notified in SA, NSW, ACT, QLD, VIC, NT and WA since September 2021 and have been linked to the consumption of raw oysters from Coffin Bay, SA.

Food Standards Australia & New Zealand have issued a food recall. Consumers are advised not to eat raw Pacific oysters from Coffin Bay, SA, including fresh and frozen products. Consumers should dispose of the oysters with production dates from 4 September 2021 up to 16 November 2021 inclusive or return the oysters to the place of purchase for a full refund.

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

Vibrio parahaemolyticus is a bacterium found in marine and coastal waters. The bacteria are more common in warm tidal areas, where oysters normally grow. The consumption of raw or undercooked seafood can cause outbreaks of Vibrio parahaemolyticus gastroenteritis in people.

Who is at risk?

Improper handling or consumption of raw or inadequately cooked oysters from Coffin Bay, SA currently puts anyone at risk of infection from this outbreak. This includes fresh or frozen oysters from this area.

The elderly and people who are immunocompromised, such as those receiving cancer treatment, are at higher risk of developing severe disease and may require hospitalisation.

Symptoms and transmission

Symptoms of Vibrio parahaemolyticus gastroenteritis include watery diarrhoea (occasionally bloody diarrhoea), nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, fever, and headache. Symptoms typically start within 24 to 48 hours of eating the contaminated seafood and usually last between three to five days, but may last up to ten days.

Vibrio parahaemolyticus is most often spread by eating contaminated seafood. It is not commonly spread from person to person however this can occur if there is poor personal hygiene.

Recommendations

The following measures are recommended to prevent infection:

  • Temporarily stop consuming oysters that originate from Coffin Bay,
  • Consumers should dispose of the oysters with production dates from 4 September 2021 up to 16 November 2021 inclusive or return the oysters to the place of purchase for a full refund.
  • As a general rule, keep raw seafood separated from ready-to-eat foods when storing or preparing food.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and running water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food, after using the toilet, changing nappies, or assisting someone who has vomiting or diarrhoea.
  • Anyone recovering from gastroenteritis, including Vibrio parahaemolyticus infection, should avoid visiting high risk facilities, such as hospitals, childcare centres, and aged care facilities, until at least 48 hours after symptoms have resolved to avoid spreading the infection to those most vulnerable.

People with symptoms should drink plenty of fluids, including electrolyte solutions.

Anyone concerned about their symptoms should consult their doctor for advice.

Vibrio parahaemolyticus infection can be diagnosed by testing a stool sample.

Clinicians can report confirmed cases of Vibrio parahaemolyticus infection to the Department of Health to assist in identifying cases related to this outbreak.

Reviewed 20 November 2021

Health.vic

Contact details

Communicable Disease

Was this page helpful?