The First Nations Health Authority and Island Health are warning the public following confirmed cases of Vibrio cholerae infection associated with eating herring eggs. The bacteria can be found in the aquatic environment and can cause intestinal illness after eating contaminated foods. Illness may include mild to severe nausea, vomiting, and very severe watery diarrhea. Some people don’t become ill and don’t know they have been infected. Health authorities are asking you to take the following precautions and actions:

  • Do not consume herring eggs harvested from French Creek to Qualicum Bay area from kelp, seaweed or other surfaces.
  • If you are ill, ensure you are drinking small amounts of fluid frequently to keep hydrated. Visit your physician or health center to ensure treatment and confirmation of the cause of illness. Letyour health care provider know if you have eaten raw or lightly-cooked herring eggs within 5
    days of onset of illness or caring for someone who became ill after eating herring eggs.
  • The bacteria can be passed from person to person, even if you don’t have symptoms. Always wash your hands well after going to the bathroom or caring for someone who has been ill.
  • If you have stored herring eggs, please call First Nations Health Authority Environmental Public Health Services at 250-924- 6125. Samples are being requested for testing (keep cold and in original packaging).
  • Discard any extra stored herring eggs to avoid further illness. Freezing does not kill the bacteria.
  • When handling herring eggs, practice proper handwashing and sanitize dishes and equipment to avoid cross contamination.
  • Ensure other community members who may have received herring eggs are aware of these precautions and actions. If they are ill, we request that they be in contact with their physician or Health Center.
  • A sanitary shellfish closure exists for bivalves in the French Creek/Qualicum Bay area. Harvesters are reminded to check area closures prior to harvesting bivalves to prevent illness.

The investigation into the Vibrio cholerae infection cases is ongoing and in collaboration with BC Center for Disease Control and First Nations communities. This includes the testing of marine water samples, leftover food samples, clinical samples and assessing the handling and distribution of the harvested product.

Public domain image/Dartmouth
Public domain image/Dartmouth