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

New exhibit at Haida Gwaii Heritage Centre, Kay Llnagaay

Ubiquitous Cocoons: My metamorphosing life by Kathy Pick will be running until Sept. 1, 2019

Steve Nash Youth Basketball wraps up in Massett

RCMP coordinated the 12-week program for children between the ages of eight and 10

Smithers man receives two-year sentence for fatal car crash

Over a year after a fatal crash, a Smithers man has been sentenced to two years plus a day in jail.

Backyard burning still prohibited on Haida Gwaii, fire chief warns

Village of Queen Charlotte fire chief Larry Duke is reminding the public… Continue reading

COLUMN: The removal of the Pigeon Guillemot ‘colony’

Birds lost their place after the removal of the old wharf at Shingle Bay in Sandspit

10 facts about Father’s Day

Did you know that the special day for dads was first celebrated in 1910?

Bombers down B.C. Lions 33-23 in season opener

Former Lion Andrew Harris leads Winnipeg with 148 rushing yards

Northern B.C. family remembers murdered Indigenous woman with memorial walk

Still no closure for Ramona Wilson’s family 25 years later

B.C. university to offer mentorship program for former youth in care

Students using the provincial tuition waiver program will soon be able to form a community at KPU

Cyclists competing in one of the toughest bike races on the planet pass through Fernie

Divide riders looking strong as they finish first leg of 4160 km race

You might not know these B.C. records are public

Hired a lawyer to file a civil claim? Those are published online

B.C. bus driver loses case to get job back after texting while driving full bus

An arbitator ruled that Tim Wesman’s phone usage was a “a reckless disregard for public safety”

B.C. Interior First Nation family ‘heartbroken’ over loss of young mom

RCMP have released no new information since the June 8, 2019 homicide

Revamped B.C. Lions set to battle veteran Winnipeg Blue Bombers

The Lions’ first test of the season will be a big one

Most Read