Department of Health

Warning on shellfish in the Gippsland Lakes

Published by Department of Health & Human Services

Recreational fishers have been advised not to eat mussels and other shellfish from the Gippsland Lakes until further notice.

This is due to the possible presence of a toxin produced by a particular algae present in the Lakes.

Signs are being placed around the Lakes advising visitors of this precautionary advice.

The Department of Health and Human Services says the likelihood of a serious risk to human health is low but this advice has been issued as a precaution - until further testing has shown the shellfish are safe.

Further advice will be provided to the community as soon as these results are available, probably by the end of the week.

There are no restrictions on water activity in the Gippsland Lakes including swimming, fishing and boating.

The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning has advised DHHS that levels of the algae Pseudonitzschia delicatissima were detected as part of routine water sampling at Eagle Point, Paynesville and Metung.

Pseudonitzschia algae species are commonly found in coastal waters at low levels.

Some, but not all, Pseudonitzschia species produces a toxin called domoic acid. Toxin producing strains to date have been uncommon in Australia, or have only produced toxins at low levels. This particular algae Pseudonitzschia delicatissima is less likely to produce toxin at high levels.

If seafood eat this algae, the toxin can accumulate and cause illness in consumers.

Mussels and other shellfish are more likely to accumulate this toxin as they are 'filter feeders'. This advisory does not include fish as they are unlikely to accumulate toxins to any significant level.

If anyone has consumed mussels or other shellfish from the Gippsland Lakes and experiences symptoms which include gastroenteritis (usually within 24 hrs of consumption) nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal cramps, they should see their doctor.

Those who experience neurological symptoms (usually within 48 hrs of consumption) such as headaches, confusion, short term memory loss, breathing difficulties and seizures should seek immediate medical attention.

Reviewed 09 February 2016


Contact details

Bram Alexander Department of Health Media Unit

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