A SHOCKING number of visitors to Inskip Point have been struck down with gastroenteritis and a fly infestation combined with poor hygiene conditions could be to blame.
Numerous reports of campers coming down with stomach bugs and gastroenteritis, commonly known as gastro, after visiting Inskip Point have sparked an investigation by the Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service.
One recent visitor, Tamika Molyneux-Barrett caught the bug while camping with her husband and a group of friends earlier this month.
The group arrived at Inskip Point’s MV Sarawak site on Thursday, November 5 for the weekend; by Friday, three of the seven of them had caught a stomach bug.
By Sunday six, including Mrs Molyneux-Barrett, had been struck down by what they suspect to be gastro.
“We arrived on Thursday and left on Sunday, and by the Friday morning we witnessed other campers sort of vomiting around the camp site, some people on trees, some in the toilet, someone was walking around with a vomit bucket,” she said.
“There was a group of seven of us, and by Friday night three were vomiting.
“Saturday night two others got sick, myself and someone else in our group, and by the time we were coming home six of the seven of us were sick.
“The vomiting lasted around the six to 10 hour mark, but you just felt really sick for the whole day or two days after with stomach cramps, a temperature, and some people had the other end going.
“It was quite shocking.”
Another visitor, Chloe Budde, said she, her husband and a few friends who had been camping there the same weekend also became ill.
“It was really weird,” she said.
“I woke up and my husband said he had been sick all night, and then I had to pack up and get us home.
“I got sick that night, and a couple of our friends got it as well.”
Mrs Budde said they also knew of a another group of 12 who all were struck by a stomach bug after camping around the same time.
Mrs Molyneux-Barrett said the toilet facilities at Inskip Point, which are now compost toilets, were “disgusting” and riddled with vinegar flies, which she thought could be contributing to how the bug is spreading.
“You walked in and sort of lost your breath,” she said.
“It was like an ammonia smell, it was so strong and there were so many vinegar flies everywhere in the toilet.
“They were also on our food, on our drinks.”
Vinegar flies are commonly seen around compost and are drawn to rotting or fermenting foods, and in previous years it was suspected that the flies were spreading germs from the toilets to humans by landing on food and drinks.
“We were washing our hands, we had sanitiser, we had disinfectant, we were washing our dishes but nothing stopped it from happening,” Mrs Molyneux-Barrett said.
“You could hear other people at the campsite vomiting, it was definitely not just us.”
Mrs Molyneux-Barrett said she reported the issue to the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, and was told the facilities were cleaned regularly and it was up to visitors to practice hygiene, which she said they had been.
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“About an hour before we arrived the sewer trucks were leaving, they had emptied the toilets,” she said.
“We were there four days and they didn’t seem to clean again.
“They probably just wiped them down and changed the toilet paper, but in the tiles and grooves you could still see dust and hair.”
After asking on Facebook group Camping in Queensland if anyone else had a similar experience at Inskip Point, she discovered at least 11 groups that had camped there the same weekend or the weekend prior had all become sick.
Within days the post had received more than 400 comments, and several people said the issue has been ongoing for several years.
A spokesperson for the Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service, which includes the Gympie region, said they were investigating reports of the gastroenteritis outbreak.
“Gastrointestinal illness can be caused by a range of bacteria, viruses, parasites and also other substances,” the spokesperson said.
“Some of the micro‐organisms, including Salmonella and Campylobacter, are most commonly transmitted by food, particularly food that has been improperly stored, handled or cooked. “Some are most commonly transmitted through consumption of contaminated water, and others, such as norovirus, are often passed directly from an infected person to another person.”
See below for some of the comments posted on Tamika Molyneux-Barrett’s Facebook post about the outbreak.
Deb Cupples: “We were camped at Sarawak MV and had to come home Sat. as we were so sick.”
Carl Stevens: “Both my wife and myself were there a month ago and go very sick the day we got home, the day before others near the toilets got very sick too, and agree with you regarding the toilets.”
Victoria Bansey: “We stayed there this weekend and my son was sick on Saturday vomiting with some sort of bug. Thankfully no gastro. The toilets were the worst I’ve ever seen and will be complaining to Parks QLD and the council. Shame as it’s such a great spot. Will go back again but taking our own toilet.”
Sarah Crudgington: “We were at Sarawak from Sunday till Thursday, 5 out of 7 us caught it inc me … Thankfully I was home before I came down with it – wiped me out for 24 hours, am ok now tho.”
Grayce Rose Hunter: “Every single time we camped at Sarawak every one has come home sick with gastro.”