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ARPHS investigates Norovirus contamination

24 July 2008

Auckland Regional Public Health Service investigates Norovirus contamination of Oysters

The Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) is investigating incidents involving gastroenteritis linked to the consumption of raw Pacific Oysters and the grower has recalled potentially affected product.

ARPHS Medical Officer of Health, Dr Greg Simmons says, “We have become aware of a number of people displaying symptoms consistent with norovirus infection in the past two weeks. The common link between cases was the consumption of raw Pacific oysters. The oysters were farmed by Pakihi Marine Farms Ltd.”

“Pakihi Marine Farms are to be commended for their prompt action. They have fully co-operated with our investigation and have ceased harvesting from the implicated growing sites and any remaining implicated batches of oysters have been recalled or held.”

Tests on the remaining oysters have confirmed norovirus contamination. “Until we identify the source of contamination we are taking a precautionary approach, and all implicated Clevedon Coast Oyster product, fresh and frozen, harvested between 30 June and 18 July is being recalled.” said Dr Simmons.

There is other product on the market currently that is not affected. People can find details of the recalled batches at http://www.nzfsa.govt.nz/recalls/consumers.htm

Diarrhoea and vomiting are the main features of norovirus infection. Norovirus is a relatively common virus in the community and can be spread directly from person to person. Practising good hand hygiene is an easy but a very effective way to prevent infection.

-Ends-

Notes to editor
• Symptoms of norovirus infection include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhoea usually occurs 10 – 50 hours after consumption of the virus. Headache, fever and chills may also

Notes to editor
occur. Symptoms usually last from 12 to 72 hours, but some people may be unwell for longer.

• Clean hands are hands that are washed with soap and water for 20 seconds and thoroughly dried on a clean dry cloth towel or disposable paper towel for a further 20 seconds.

• Be careful when cleaning up after ill people. Vomit or faeces should be cleaned up using first a detergent solution then a solution of household chlorine bleach.

• While it is not fatal, some adults with medical conditions may be vulnerable. If your symptoms are severe please consult with your GP.

• Norovirus is easily spread when people eat food or drink fluids contaminated with the virus.

• For a norovirus fact sheet go to: http://www.arphs.govt.nz/notifiable/downloads/Norovirus1.pdf

-Ends-


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