Canada almost eradicated Cholera in the 1800s, when at least 20,000 people died. The U.S. CDC has stated that each year, worldwide, there are over 100,000 deaths from cholera.
In March, a small outbreak of cholera was reported by the First Nations Health Authority and Island Health. First, they collected herring eggs and water samples from French Creek and Qualicum Bay, which were then sent to testing. The results were positive for Vibrio cholerae bacteria, and several people have also contracted the disease.
Island Health urges everyone that harvested herring eggs from Creek and Qualicum Bay must not consume them and immediately contact Island Health.
At the end of March, only four people have been diagnosed with cholera after eating infected herring eggs from those areas.
The medical health officer with Island Health, Dr. Shannon Waters stated:
“This is unique. We have not seen this before in B.C. These illnesses have been associated with herring egg consumption. Herring egg harvest is typically, on Vancouver Island, a First Nations harvest. The spawn had just happened earlier this month. People had harvested and were distributing between family, friends, communities.”
Island Health doesn’t yet know if future herring eggs will be affected by the bacteria. Nonetheless, people must dispose of the herring eggs they got from French Creek and Qualicum Bay. The eggs must be secured in a garbage can and keep away pets or animals from the infected eggs.
Although cholera infections are a rare issue in developed countries, eating raw seafood is a known risk to everyone, as it can contain other bacteria or viruses as well.
Cholera Symptoms and Means of Infection
People suffering from cholera can have the following symptoms, or they can be asymptomatic. The symptoms are mild to severe nausea, vomiting, and watery diarrhea, causing severe dehydration. Most infections have either no symptoms, or some cases only suffer from mild diarrhea.
The bacteria can be passed to other people from an infected person, even if they have an asymptomatic infection.
Andre Blair s is the lead editor for Advocator.ca. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.