Health officials are offering some food safety advice as this year’s herring egg harvest opens along a section of Vancouver Island’s east coast. (File photo)

Health tips from officials as herring egg harvest opens on Vancouver Island

Outbreak of a cholera strain in 2018 forced closure of the harvest

Health officials are offering some food safety advice as this year’s herring egg harvest opens along a section of Vancouver Island’s east coast.

Hand-gathered herring eggs, known as spawn-on-kelp, are an important traditional seafood for many First Nations, but an outbreak of a cholera strain in 2018 forced closure of the harvest between French Creek and Qualicum Bay.

READ MORE: West coast group campaigns for seal, sea lion harvest

Island Health says in a news release that lab tests confirm a small group of people contracted the vibrio cholera bacteria last year after eating herring eggs from the affected region.

Officials say the bacteria are a “natural inhabitant” of the marine environment, are unable to produce the toxin found in more severe strains of cholera and are not from poor sanitation or sewage.

Vibrio cholera infections are relatively rare, but the health authority says when they do occur symptoms can include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, fever, vomiting, nausea, blood and mucus of the stool.

Until last year there had been no reported outbreaks, but a Health Canada and BC Centre for Disease Control review found salinity, acidity, temperature, sunlight and availability of nutrients can encourage the bacteria.

Water temperature above 10 C and sea water low in salt are two key factors in development of vibrio cholera, the review said.

“At the time of the March 2018 harvest, although water temperatures were below 10 degrees C, a relatively high rainfall could have affected different environmental factors, including lowering salinity and increasing nutrient availability,” it said.

The health authority urges harvesters to use bleach or a similar sanitizer on all harvesting and egg-carrying equipment, to wash hands before handling roe and to rinse the eggs with drinking-quality water or boiled, cooled salt water to remove some bacteria.

It also recommends the roe be cooked or blanched, but ”if cooking is not preferred, be aware that there is always a risk with eating raw seafood.”

Vibrio cholera is an emerging issue on the B.C. coast, the news release says, adding that First Nations, health authorities and the federal and provincial governments are working to better understand it.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

UPDATE: Motorcyclist dies after three-vehicle crash on old Island Highway in Nanaimo

Accident happened at 12:15 p.m. Friday near Country Club Centre

Hospital and care residence in Nanaimo see flu outbreaks

Nanaimo Regional General Hospital’s Influenza A outbreak confined to rehabilitation unit

Smoke detector buys time in Gabriola house fire

Residents’ correct action kept fire from spreading, says fire department

VIU Mariners take the field for baseball season

Vancouver Island University baseball club begins CCBC play this Saturday

Dump truck driver hurt after highway crash in Ladysmith

One man airlifted to hospital after collision between dump truck and pickup truck Friday

Protective human chain forms around Victoria mosque for Friday prayer

Islanders stand arm-in-arm to show support in aftermath of New Zealand shootings

Beefs & Bouquets, March 21

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail bulletinboard@nanaimobulletin.com

‘Families torn apart:’ Truck driver in fatal Broncos crash gets 8-year sentence

Judge Inez Cardinal told court in Melfort, Sask., that Sidhu’s remorse and guilty plea were mitigating factors

Boy who went missing from park remains largest probe in Victoria police history

The four-year old Victoria boy went missing without a trace on March 24, 1991

WestJet sticking with Boeing 737 Max once planes certified to fly

WestJet had expected to add two more of the planes this year to increase its fleet to 13

B.C. driver caught going 207 km/h on motorcycle along Okanagan Highway

A motorcyclist was caught by Kelowna RCMP going 207 km/h on Highway 97C

Protective human chain forms around B.C. mosque for Friday prayer

Vancouver Islanders stand arm-in-arm to show support in aftermath of New Zealand shootings

B.C. fire department offers tips to keep your home safe during wildfire season

With wildfire season getting closer, the Penticton Fire Dept. offer tips to keep your home safe

Most Read