Could Inskip gastro outbreak be linked to weed invasion?
A RAINBOW Beach businesswoman has queried the accepted wisdoom that an infected “Patient Zero” camper, flies, facilities and poor hygiene at Inskip Point are responsible for the gastro outbreak that has plagued campers for weeks.
Rachel Croker of Rainbow Beach Ultimate Camping said she had been monitoring the situation and had come to the conclusion the gastro outbreak could be caused by the putrid weed that has been present in the waters off the Cooloola Coast for several weeks, and reached such a level last weekend it was impossible to go in the water at the main beach at Rainbow.
The State Department of Environment and Science however, has today reaffirmed the advice of Queensland Health in attributing the gastro outbreak to theflies, facilities and hygiene, not the weed.
Inskip’s MV Sarawak and MV Sarawak West campgrounds reopened this week after a temporary closure during which Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service rangers thoroughly cleaned the public facilities, as per Queensland Health guidelines.
“Queensland Health believes a person arrived at Sarawak campground in November with the illness in its early stages and it spread among campers through poor hygiene, close personal contact or use of shared facilities,” a department spokesperson said.
But Ms Croker disagrees.
“Our role is setting up luxury camps at Inskip Recreation Area. After monitoring it for the past four weeks some interesting facts are arising,” she said.
“Firstly, our guests have their own private facilities so do not touch the public toilets. Upon arrival I have informed our guests of the outbreak and strongly advocated that they do not go near the public facilities and increase their personal hand sanitization etc
“In a group of eight, five experienced symptoms.
“In a group of two, both experienced symptoms, but believe one contracted it from their partner. Our current group of five only one experienced symptoms. This group are still camped at Inskip and have been there for six days with no further issue.
“After four weeks of being there every day covered in Inskip sand, I did not experience any issue however after not being there for 2 days at all I seemed to have symptoms. Symptoms are ranging from just severe tummy cramps (me) to others only vomiting once and others having some form of mild gastric symptoms but all passed within 24 hours.
“The interesting factor is that none of us have used public facilities yet all have been in or near the water with the seaweed that has been heavily present the past four weeks.
“Upon Google searching this was found: Carrageenan, an extract from red seaweeds and used as a thickening agent in some organic products, has been shown to cause gastrointestinal difficulties in some people.
“Further research from talking with people shows that there has been a potent smell with the seaweed that has been worse than the toilets which could indicate that the seaweed is carrying the bacteria. Reports are that it was a lot stronger coming from the Tin Can Bay waters into the channel at Inskip thus making Sarawak the worst smelling (infected?) on to then Beagle and Natone. Questions here have arisen as to the sewerage facility at Tin Can and whether there could be a leak there also?
“The pharmacist in town has also confirmed that they usually see an increase in gastric related issues around the September/October period which also ties in with when the weed has often appeared in previous years only this year the weed seems to be much more prolific than previous years.
“I don’t ever remember a time when I have not been able to see the sand at Natone at low tide however two weeks ago the weed was so thick I could not see the sand at all and the smell was phenomonally worse than the toilets. I was amazed to see it.
“I’m sure independent campers contracting the virus are then using public toilets too which can then carry it through the toilet system however I wonder if that is where the onset is actually occurring.
“Talking with other groups that are using the public toilets not all are contracting it either. A women’s rugby team of 12 only half contracted it, other groups of four or five only one or two are showing symptoms yet all are using the facilities.
“Thankfully, with the wind change it seems the weed is finally moving away so will be interesting to see over the coming week. Also hearing the weed moved to main beach Rainbow a few days ago I’m interested to see if there are any cases appearing in Rainbow however possibly as it has travelled the channel and through the open ocean it may have naturally filtered and may not have brought the bacteria to Rainbow.”
QPWS provides sanitiser in public facilities in the Inskip Recreation Area. Campers and visitors are advised to take the necessary precautions to keep themselves, their families and friends healthy, by bringing their own supplies of soap and sanitiser. People intending to visit any of Queensland’s camping areas are advised to stay home if they are feeling unwell.