Watch out, my friends in the US!!
PARALYTIC SHELLFISH POISONING, HUMAN - USA (MAINE)
Maine Government News
Late on 31 Jul 2007, 4 persons from a Washington County fishing
household were hospitalized with symptoms of paralytic shellfish
poisoning (PSP) within several hours of sharing a meal of mussels.
Samples of mussels taken from the home were highly contaminated with
the toxin that causes paralytic shellfish poisoning.
Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) sent a
health alert to health care providers early this morning [1 Aug
2007]. Maine CDC is now assisting the Maine Department of Marine
Resources (DMR) to determine the source of the implicated mussels and
to assure that any harvested shellfish available to the public
continue to be safe to eat. Early information indicates the probable
source of the mussels was a drifting barrel found by the lobsterman
off the Washington County coast; not from a mussel bed. This
information also indicates the mussels taken off the barrel were for
the lobsterman's personal use.
Paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) -- also called red tide -- is a
marine biotoxin that is associated with certain types of algae blooms
in coastal waters. Bivalve shellfish eat and filter the toxic algae,
and the concentrations of the toxin can cause serious illness or
death if eaten by humans.
Consumers concerned about obtaining safe shellfish should buy from
certified shellfish dealers whose operations undergo rigorous public
health screening and auditing.
Symptoms of PSP include tingling of face and neck areas, headaches,
nausea, and muscle weakness. In extreme cases, these symptoms can
lead to respiratory failure. Symptoms usually occur within 2 hours of
eating contaminated shellfish. Anyone who has eaten shellfish and has
these symptoms should seek immediate medical care.
The Maine DMR monitors shellfish beds closely and closes areas to
shellfish harvesting if levels of PSP are noted to be high. Because
of this well developed system, there have been no documented cases of
human PSP in Maine since at least 1980. This testing and closure
system coupled with effective law enforcement has a long history of
successfully preventing consumers from being exposed to shellfish
from areas closed because of red tide.
The Department of Marine Resources Public Health Division routinely
tests shellfish along Maine's entire coast to test for harmful red
tide levels. Current red tide closure areas include the area from
Cutler to the Canadian Border (not including all of Cobscook Bay), an
area around Isle au Haut and Frenchboro, and part of southern Maine
south of Biddeford. Department staff are conducting tests this
morning on shellfish from the affected area to verify the current
For more information, see:
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