Status:
Resolved
Health alert:
130001
Date Issued:
23 Jan 2013
Issued by:
Dr Michael Ackland, Acting Chief Health Officer, Victoria
Issued to:
Recreational and commercial fishermen in the Gippsland Lakes, consumers and health professionals.

Key messages

  • Elevated levels of blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) toxins, above the recommended health guideline levels have been detected in whole fish taken from the Gippsland Lakes. 
  • Recent test results show that the toxin is concentrated in the internal organs of fish, and that fish which have been gilled and gutted are safe to eat.
  • Swimming and other recreational use of the Gippsland Lakes is not affected.

What is the issue

Elevated levels of blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) toxins, above the recommended health guideline levels have been detected in whole fish taken from the Gippsland Lakes. 

Who is at risk

All individuals who consume crabs, prawns, mussels or whole fish taken from the Gippsland Lakes at the current time are potentially affected.

Symptoms and transmission

Although immediate symptoms from ingestion of affected whole fish are very unlikely, if present these may be non-specific and related to liver function such as fatigue, abdominal pain or jaundice.  Of greater concern are more chronic health effects that may occur from accumulation of toxin from consumption of whole fish, such as kidney or liver damage, effects on reproductive organs or fetal development, and a potentially increased risk of cancer.

Prevention and treatment

Recreational anglers are being advised to remove and discard the gut and gills from fish prior to cooking. Fish should not be cooked whole as this will re-distribute toxins from the internal organs to the fish flesh, making it unsafe for consumption. Crabs, prawns, mussels or whole fish obtained from affected areas should not be consumed. Signs have been erected at key recreational access sites around the Gippsland Lakes to advise the public not to consume affected seafood. Media releases have also been issued.

Contacts