Around 60 people have now been reported to the Public and Environmental Health Service with gastroenteritis over the Easter period, following consumption of oysters purchased from Barilla Bay Seafoods last week.
The cause of the illness is confirmed as Norovirus – a common cause of gastroenteritis.
As a precautionary measure, sales of oysters by Barilla Bay Seafoods were stopped on Sunday March 31 pending investigations. The operators of Barilla Bay have been fully co-operating with us and all potentially contaminated shellfish have been removed from the market.
The reported illnesses are not related to shellfish from the Pitt Water and Island Inlet growing areas that were closed last week as a result of a sewage spill entering those growing areas – and these areas remain closed.
Investigations are underway to determine how a particular oyster lease owned by Barilla Bay in a completely different growing area came to be contaminated. It has not been a source of any problems in the past.
The batches of oysters causing this gastroenteritis outbreak were harvested on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday last week (27-29 March 2013) and may have sold up to and including Sunday 31 March 2013.
It is unlikely that any product harvested or sold on these dates remains in circulation. If people still have product in their fridge they should discard it. But generally we would not expect people to store opened shellfish for this long.
Shellfish currently available in retail outlets do not originate from any closed harvest zones and are safe to consume.
Our usual public health advice not to collect and consume wild shellfish from any area remains in place.
For more information please call the free Public Health Helpline on 1800 671 738.