Australians urged to avoid raw SA oysters after gastro outbreak
South Australia’s oyster industry has been dealt a blow in the lead-up to Christmas, with Australians being urged to avoid eating the uncooked seafood.
More than 50 cases of gastro-related illnesses have been recorded in the past two months alone.
It has prompted warnings from both SA and Western Australia’s health departments.
Of the 17 people who fell ill in WA in the past six weeks, all bar one had eaten raw oysters.
“Eleven of the cases have been linked to oysters originating in South Australia,” the statement read.
“Work is under way to determine potential sources of oysters for the remaining cases.
“To date, there is no evidence linking local WA oysters or those sourced from states (apart from South Australia) to any of the WA cases.”
Meanwhile, 36 South Australians have come down with Vibrio parahaemolyticus infections since September.
SA Health’s Food and Controlled Drugs acting director Joanne Cammans said the outbreak was very concerning.
“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,” she said.
“People with lowered gastric acidity, such as those who are taking antacids, and people with liver disease are particularly vulnerable to Vibrio parahaemolyticus and so should avoid eating raw oysters.”
Symptoms, which include vomiting, nausea, fever and headaches, usually occur within 24 hours of eating undercooked shellfish and fish, but raw oysters are the most common cause.
While SA’s oyster industry grapples to get on top of the issue, WA has urged its residents to avoid consuming the raw or partially cooked delicacies until the matter is resolved.
SA’s Department of Primary Industries and Regions biosecurity executive director Nathan Rhodes said so far it was unknown what was causing the illnesses.
“Inspections … have found that food safety practices are being appropriately applied on farm,” he said.
“Raw unshucked oysters should be stored at less than 10C and shucked oysters at less than 5C to minimise the risk of Vibrio parahaemolyticus infection.”
Originally published as Australians urged to avoid raw SA oysters after gastro outbreak
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