NZ: Norovirus outbreak traced to Kerikeri Inlet oysters


13.10.2008

 

Source of Article: http://www.northernadvocate.co.nz/localnews/storydisplay.cfm?storyid=3787642&thesection=localnews&thesubsection=&thesecondsubsection=

 

by Andr Hueber

Bay of Islands oysters are off the menu after three Northlanders who ate oysters from the Kerikeri Inlet came down with a nasty stomach bug.

The oysters were sold in Auckland and Northland last week, but the company which sold them has since voluntarily taken them off the market.

Health authorities are warning people not to collect shellfish in the area until they can establish where the contamination came from.

Northland medical officer of health Jonathan Jarman said test results from oysters harvested from the area were infected with norovirus, a micro-organism found in human faeces.

 

 

 

It can cause an illness with symptoms including nausea, stomach cramps, diarrhoea, vomiting, headache, chills and aching muscles.

He would not say where the contaminated oysters had been sold or what brand they were, saying that was the responsibility of the New Zealand Food Safety Authority.

The authority could not be contacted yesterday, but Dr Jarman confirmed the oysters were no longer in shops.

The source of the initial outbreak in Northland could not be determined, but when further cases were reported in Auckland, a particular brand of oysters was pinned down as the source of the illness.

The company tested its product and found the oysters came from the batch which made the Northlanders ill, and pulled them from the market.

Dr Jarman said public health staff were now trying to determine the source of the norovirus.

A health protection team was in Kerikeri on Friday inspecting septic tanks and looking for contamination. He said it was not clear whether the oysters were contaminated while still in the water or during harvesting and processing.

"We look at all the places where contamination may have occurred. There are a number of possible places from the time when the oysters were growing in the seawater, during processing, to the time they were purchased that contamination may have occurred."

Commercial shellfish farming in the inlet has also been halted until the source of the virus has been found.

 

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