No new cases of cholera reported after Island Health warning last week


WATCH: A mysterious cholera outbreak on the mid-Island continues to baffle health officials. It has been linked to herring eggs but herrings egg harvest from kelp have been a traditional First Nations food source for centuries. Skye Ryan reports.

Island Health says there were not any new lab-confirmed cases of cholera over the weekend.

On Friday, a warning was issued by Island Health after three cases of Vibrio cholerae infection that were associated with eating herring eggs were confirmed. An investigation regarding the specific type of Vibrio cholera bacteria is still underway.

Officials said people should not consume herrings eggs found on kelp, seaweed or other surfaces from the French Creek to Qualicum Bay area. Island Health and the First Nations Health Authority are also asking people in the area to wash their hands thoroughly, report to a doctor if they feel any symptoms and contact them if anyone has stored herring eggs.

Symptoms can include mild to severe nausea, vomiting and very severe, watery diarrhea. Island Health said anyone who has eaten herring eggs in the area and has fallen ill should drink small amounts of fluid frequently to keep hydrated. They should also let a doctor know if they have eaten raw or lightly-cooked eggs within five days of onset of illness or caring for someone who became ill after eating herring eggs.

Some people don’t become ill and don’t know if they are infected. The bacteria can be passed from infected people even if they’re not displaying symptoms.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada has closed Pacific Fishery Management Areas 14-1, 14-4, and 14-5 to fishing for herring eggs by handpicking. The closure is based on advice from Island Health. Fisheries and Oceans said Vibrio cholera is an unusual organism not normally found in water in this region or in Canada.

Fisheries Management Area 14 – Oyster River, Parksville. Credit: Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Cholera killed at least 20,000 people in Canada in the 1800s, but the disease has largely been eradicated in this country.

The Ontario Ministry of Health says an average of one case per year is reported in that province, but all of those individuals were exposed to cholera in a country where the disease is endemic.

The disease is most common in places with inadequate water treatment, poor sanitation and inadequate hygiene.

More than 100,000 people die from cholera around the world each year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control said.

With files from The Canadian Press

Naturally-deposited herring eggs attached to submerged macrophytes. Coiled embryos are evident inside the eggs. Credit: USGS.

Naturally-deposited herring eggs attached to submerged macrophytes. Coiled embryos are evident inside the eggs. Credit: USGS.


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