Subject: RE: Dr Lyttle: SeaRipple Facilities & Amenities – is it safe for residents to use?
We have not seen or heard of anything to date that would make us concerned about the safety of the facilities and amenities at Searipple.
The Environmental Health team from City of Karratha has been through the kitchens twice in the past week.
In fact the camp administration have been very good in assisting us with putting in measures to limit the spread of the outbreak and ensure the comfort of those affected, and that any sick are notified to is and taken to ED.
If we had any concerns we would have stopped new arrivals and closed the kitchens etc. There has been no need to do that.
Of course if your staff have anything in particular they are concerned about that they would like the Environmental Health Staff to investigate particularly, then please contact them. This can be about anything in the environment that makes them alarmed about a health effect. Please Contact Leon Myburgh from the City Of Karratha Environmental Health Team, who’s email is above and phone is 9186 8638
Most people who write on social media with alarmist tales have not been sufficiently alarmed previously to notify either management, their employer, or the Environmental Health team to have their claims investigated.
We have asked for additional cleaning of common surfaces ( because if there are any people infected they may not have washed their hands properly and touch common surfaces like door handles etc) and for everyone to wash their hands after the toilet and before eating any food – either meals or snacks. Also to be aware of not putting their hands to their mouth at other times eg snacks and smoking, as again germs can be ingested if hands are not clean. Please advise your employees to be careful with hand washing both at the camp and in their lunch rooms – it goes a long way to stop any gastro outbreak.
As we have not yet completed our investigation we cannot say what the food has been that was contaminated, or guarantee that a similar food will not enter the premises again if it was contaminated at source.
Your query is really about where your staff would prefer to be placed in Karratha accommodation, and whether they/you have confidence in Searipple or are put off by the unsubstantiated claims on social media – only you can decide how best to manage that.
I am copying the camp staff and they are free to give this email to other industries also if they wish, as you are to circulate to your staff.
Dr Heather Lyttle
Dr P Heather Lyttle
FFPHM FAChSHM MBChB Dip Obs MPH (Otago) Dip Ven(Liverpool)
Public Health and Sexual Health Physician
Hedland Health Campus
PMB 12 South Hedland WA 6722
Pilbara Population Health – Public Health Unit
Hedland Health Campus – Colebatch Way, South Hedland WA 6722
Telephone: 08 9174 1660
Saturday 16th March 2019 12 noon.
To All Residents of Searipple Camp
Re: Gastroenteritis Outbreak in Searipple Camp .Monday 11th to Thursday 15th March
I am the Public Health Physician for the Pilbara region, and as such have been co-ordinating the response to the gastroenteritis outbreak, and its further investigation. There has been quite a bit of mis-information on media and social media so it’s important that residents know the facts.
The Outbreak Details
• Up to midday today we have been notified of a gastroenteritis illness that has affected 28 residents of Searipple camp. Affected people began to have symptoms from late on the evening of Monday 11th March, through to the early hours of Thursday 14th. We have not heard of any new cases since.
• Of those 28 who have been ill this week, 21 have attended the Emergency Department of Karratha Health campus, and 13 have been admitted to the ward or stayed overnight.
• The staff at Searipple Camp have been very supportive of those sick by checking on their welfare and offering electorlytes and other fluids light foods, and a change of linen and additional cleaning.
• Generally Searipple camp has increased additional cleaning and advised residents to be extra careful with their handwashing before food and after going to the toilet. Hand cleaning gels are to be used before eating in the dining rooms.
• The first specimens taken last week have now returned with the diagnosis of Salmonella species.
What do you do?
• If any further cases of diarrnoea and vomiting occur please notify the camp administration and your work supervisor, and attend the Emergency Department at Karratha Health Campus to have a specimen taken. This is to check if this is the same bacteria and part of the same outbreak.
• Anyone who had a specimen taken will be advised of the results of their specimen.
• Anyone who has been sick is advised to
o not return to work until 48 hours after their last diarrhoea, and to
o not travel by air or enter the common dining room area until after 24 hours since last diarrhoea.
o Meals can be brought to your room if the camp administration is informed.
What is Salmonella?
• This is a bacteria that usually causes an acute diarrhoea, abdominal pains, fever, nausea and vomiting, and muscle aches or shivers. It can cause people to be very sick and then quite lethargic for a number of days after the diarrhoea has ceased.
• Salmonella outbreaks are quite common in Australia and around the world and often associated with contaminated poultry meats, eggs, milk, salads/leafy greens, fruits, or vegetables eaten raw. It is important that items eaten raw are well washed, and raw meats and eggs are well cooked to prevent it.
The next step – Investigation
• To investigate the cause of this outbreak, next week we will be conducting a food investigation, asking about the foods consumed by those sick, and also to coompare, camp residents who were not sick.
• This is called a case controlled study. This will help to identify which food may have been contaminated, and to trace it to the supplier.
• Food handling and processing, storage and cooking methods are also looked, and samples of food taken and tested at as part of the investigation.
Please contact me if you have any further queries,
Dr Heather Lyttle
Public Health Physician WACHS- Pilbara Office ph; 9174 1317 Mobile: 0416 008 912
15 March 2019
Searipple Village confirms that it responded to 26 village guests experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms beginning on the evening of 11 March 2019. The village has assisted the majority of these guests present to the local hospital for treatment of their symptoms and followed up with further assistance in transport and accommodation.
The staff and management of Searipple wish these guests a speedy recovery from their illness and apologise for the discomfort and inconvenience experienced.
As with any multiple gastrointestinal event, it is now under review by the Department of Health and the City of Karratha to determine the source. Searipple Village is co-operating fully with this review and continues to follow advice from both organisations on management of the event, as well as supporting patients. The village has also posted further information for residents within the village dining room on where to seek assistance if required, is conducting additional welfare checks for residents, has commenced extra cleaning of common surfaces and provided antibacterial gel and spray around the village.
On the March 12th the village had approximately 820 guests in residence. The village has been in operation for 10 years, and has not experienced a large outbreak of gastrointestinal symptoms prior to this week. The kitchen facilities provider at Searipple prepares meals in adherence to the Australian Food Safety standard HACCP with its food preparation and handling. We will be reviewing these standards to ensure they are appropriate and were properly applied. The kitchen facilities provider has also sent their own Food Safety Manager to site to conduct a review.
The Village is not aware of more than the initial 26 guests being impacted, and there have been no further reports of symptoms since 2am on Thursday March 14th. Searipple Village remains safe for residents to take up accommodation.