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Shellfish Warning

DIRECTOR GENERAL OF HEALTH PRIVILEGED STATEMENT UNDER SECTION 37 OF THE FOOD ACT 1981

THE Director General of Health today renewed warnings that the public should not collect or consume shellfish harvested from the coastline between Cape Reinga in Northland to Himatangi in the Manawatu Region.

The area affected includes the Hokianga, Manukau, Kawhia, Raglan, and Aotea Harbours. The closure also affects part of Kaipara Harbour south of a straight line between Pouto and Tapora and all other coastal inlets between the defined closure points.

Dr Karen Poutasi was concerned that some people had been ignoring the warnings which have been issued since late June, after tests revealed shellfish samples in this area contained higher than acceptable levels of paralytic shellfish poison.

Dr Poutasi said recent tests on shellfish samples have shown the levels of Paralytic Shellfish Poison, PSP, have increased even more to exceptionally high levels. Anyone eating these toxic shellfish is at risk of very serious illness.

Paralytic Shellfish Poison can cause paralysis, or in severe cases, death. The symptoms occur within 24 hours of consuming shellfish and include numbness or tingling around the mouth, face or extremities, difficulty swallowing or breathing, dizziness, double vision. Severe cases may suffer respiratory arrest resulting in death if medical treatment is not immediately available.

Anyone who becomes ill after consuming shellfish should contact their doctor.

There have been various reports of PSP-like illness, however, to date, only one person is believed to have suffered symptoms of PSP from consuming toxic shellfish.

Public Health Services are continuing to take samples of shellfish and water to monitor the situation.

For further information contact the duty health protection officers in your area.

Northland 021 998 465 Auckland 09 262 1855 Waikato 0800 800 977 (office hours) or 025 999 511 Taranaki 06 753 7798

END

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