WARNING: Further toxins detected in Venus Bay pipis

13 June 2017

Testing of pipis near Venus Bay has now identified the presence of high levels of paralytic shellfish poison, a serious and potentially fatal illness.

Although the community has been warned to avoid eating pipis due to earlier findings of diarrhetic shellfish poison, The Victorian Fisheries Authority is reminding people that pipis harvested from the Venus Bay area should not be eaten due to potentially high levels of toxins found in the shellfish.

Executive Director Travis Dowling said laboratory analysis of recent samples of pipis detected toxins that can cause diarrhetic shellfish poisoning and paralytic shellfish Poisoning in humans.

Mr Dowling said the consumption of pipis from the Venus Bay area should be avoided as toxins had been detected at levels that can make people sick.

"Pipis bought from retail or wholesale seafood suppliers are safe to eat as they are regularly monitored for contaminants, and commercial harvesting is not permitted when conditions lead to unsafe levels of toxins."

"Any pipis harvested from the Venus Bay area within the previous three months should be discarded by placing them in your regular rubbish bin as toxins are not destroyed by cooking or freezing."

The Department of Health and Human Services advises that paralytic shellfish poisoning is a potentially fatal illness and can cause nausea and vomiting, weakness, blurred vision, loss of balance, difficulty in speaking or swallowing and in severe cases difficulty breathing, paralysis and potentially death.

Symptoms can begin within minutes or up to 24 hours after ingestion of the toxin. Diarrhetic shellfish poisoning can cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhoea. Symptoms usually begin within 30 minutes after eating food contaminated with the toxin.

Anyone experiencing symptoms that may be caused by eating affected pipis should seek advice from their doctor or call NURSE-ON-CALL on 1300 60 60 24. If you suspect paralytic shellfish poisoning, contact emergency services by dialling 000.

Warnings of the hazard in several community languages have been posted in prominent spots around the Venus Bay foreshore.

A coordinated response between the relevant government agencies is currently underway to determine toxin levels in the pipi population at Venus Bay and surrounding areas.

Testing will continue in order to determine when pipis from Venus Bay are again safe to eat and the public will be notified.

For further information contact the VFA on 136 186 or go to www.vfa.vic.gov.au/.