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Bad weather conditions hinder sampling

Bad weather conditions hinder sampling last week too much

Hawke's Bay District Health Board advises that the coastline between Whareongaonga (approximately 22 kilometres north of Mahia) and Cape Turnagain in the south needs to remain closed to the collection of shellfish.

Results from shellfish samples collected this week and last week show a reduction in Paralytic Shellfish toxin levels but bad weather conditions have not allowed samples to be collected from all areas. Further attempts will be made this week.

A seawater sample taken from Pania Reef, Napier last Thursday showed that the PSP producing algae responsible for the closure Gymnodinium catenatum was still present in the area.

Further low results are needed before the closure can be lifted. Levels of the toxin in shellfish can increase, and decrease, very quickly as the toxic algae levels change in the water. In the meantime,

Kina, mussels, toheroa, pipis, tuatua, oysters and cockles in affected areas should not be eaten.

Paua, crab, and crayfish may still be eaten if the gut has been completely removed prior to cooking, as toxins accumulate in the gut. If the gut is not removed its contents could contaminate the meat during the cooking process. Cooking affected shellfish does not remove the toxin.

Fish, such as snapper, gurnard, and terakihi are not affected by the algae and are still safe to eat.

It needs to be stressed that anyone eating toxic shellfish in closed areas could be at risk of serious illness.

Symptoms of Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning can occur within 12 hours of eating affected seafood and can include: Numbness and a tingling (prickly feeling) around the mouth, face, and extremities first. Difficulty swallowing, or breathing. Headache, dizziness, and double vision.


Severe cases may suffer respiratory arrest resulting in death if medical treatment is not immediately available. If anyone becomes ill after eating shellfish from any Hawke’s Bay area (not just the closed area) they should contact a doctor immediately and also advise the Public Health Unit on (06) 878 1329. Anyone wanting further information can phone the Hawke's Bay District Health Board's Toxic Shellfish Information Line on (06) 878-1329. There is a pre-recorded message giving the latest sampling results, the status of the closure, and a facility for people to leave their contact details and a message if required.

Information on the closure will be posted and updated on Hawke’s Bay District Health Board’s web site http://www.healthinhawkesbay.co.nz in the Public Health Unit’s area of the site.

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