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Public health warning - Marine biotoxin in shellfish

Media Release

Date: 26 October 2012

Public health warning - Marine biotoxin in shellfish

The Waikato District Health Board today issued a public health warning advising the public not to collect or consume shellfish harvested from Mohakatino, north to (but not including) Manukau Harbour. The warning includes Kawhia, Aotea and Raglan harbours.

Routine tests on shellfish samples taken from Kawhia and Raglan have shown levels of Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) at 0.83 and 1.10 milligrams of toxin per kilogram of flesh. This is above the Ministry for Primary Industry safe limit of 0.8 milligrams per kilogram of flesh. Anyone eating these toxic shellfish is potentially at risk of illness.

The levels of PSP at Manukau Harbour are below the safe limit and hence the warning does not include Manukau Harbour.

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

Cooking shellfish does not remove the toxin.

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.

Symptoms of PSP usually occur within 12 hours of consuming shellfish and include:

• Numbness and tingling around the mouth, face or extremities.

• Difficulties in swallowing or breathing.

• Dizziness; double vision.

• In severe case, paralysis and respiratory failure.

If anyone becomes ill after eating shellfish from an area where a public health warning has been issued they should contact a doctor immediately, advise their local Health Protection Unit and keep any left over shellfish.

Warning signs in the closure areas are presently being erected and stakeholders have been advised by letter.

The Health Protection Units of Auckland Regional Public Health Service, Waikato District Health Board and Taranaki District Health Board are continuing to monitor the situation.

For more information about the safety of the shellfish, people can contact a Health Protection Officer toll free at 0800 800 977 from 8am - 5pm, or after hours, the on-call Health Protection Officer on mobile 021 999 521.

Further information is also available on the following website: http://www.foodsmart.govt.nz/food-safety/hunting-collecting-fishing/seafood-gatherers/

For further information contact your district health board.

Taranaki Public Health Unit
Telephone 06 753 7798

Waikato
Health Protection Officer
Population Health, Waikato District Health Board
Phone 07 838 2569

After Hours –
On-Call Health Protection Officer 021 999 521
On-Call Medical Officer of Health 021 359 650

Auckland
Auckland Regional Public Health Service, Telephone (09) 6234600.


ENDS

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