Oyster production in South Australia’s famous Coffin Bay has been temporarily halted while the state government investigates a potential disease outbreak.

Coffin Bay, on the southern tip of Eyre Peninsula, is famous nationally for its oysters, which grace the tables of some of Australia’s top restaurants.

The Department of Primary Industries said on Wednesday it had stopped oysters from leaving the area as a precaution, as it investigates a recent rise in Vibrio parahaemolyticus cases.

The bacteria can cause gastrointestinal illness in humans who’ve eaten undercooked shellfish and fish.

Since September, 45 Vibrio parahaemolyticus cases have been linked to eating raw oysters, compared with zero cases in 2020 and eight in 2019.

Officials are trying to trace back recent cases.

“Many growers had already voluntarily closed their harvesting operations,” the department’s executive director of biosecurity Nathan Rhodes said.

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The closure is likely to be in place until early next week.