Health authorities of Victoria are warning people not to eat mussels and other shellfish caught in Gippsland Lakes region as they test for a rare and potentially fatal toxin.
High levels of Pseudonitzschia delicatissima, an uncommon and potentially dangerous algae, have been detected in water samples at Eagle Point, Paynesville and Metung in the Gippsland Lakes.
‘Mussels and other shellfish which eat the algae, Pseudonitzschia delicatissima containing the toxin may cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal cramps within 24 hours.’
Seafood that consumes this algae — especially 'filter feeders' like mussels and other shellfish — can in turn infect anyone who eats them. The algae is normally found in low levels in coastal waters and some produce a toxin, domoic acid.
Symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal cramps within about 24 hours. Those who experience neurological symptoms (usually within 48 hours of consumption) such as headaches, confusion, short term memory loss, or breathing difficulties and seizures should seek immediate medical attention.
Though there are no reports of cases, and the likelihood of a serious risk to human health was low, Victoria's health department has set a precaution that, until further testing is confirmed it is better to avoid shellfish.
The health alert comes as the number of Victorians infected with salmonella from supermarket-bought packaged salad leaves is raised to 62, with 30 potential cases in other states and territories.