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Public Health Warning: Marine Biotoxin in Shellfish

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Friday, 16 November 2012

Public Health Warning: Marine Biotoxin in Shellfish

The Auckland Regional Public Health Service today issued a public health warning advising the public not to consume shellfish collected from Mohakatino (located in Taranaki) north to and including the Manukau Harbor, up to Kaipara Heads (not including Kaipara Harbour).

Routine shellfish toxin testing from the Manukau Harbour has shown high levels of Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) at 1.74 milligrams of toxin per kilogram of shellfish flesh, which is above the Ministry of Primary Industry safe limit of 0.8 milligrams per kilogram of shellfish flesh. Anyone eating these toxic shellfish is potentially at risk of illness.

“Ongoing monitoring has shown high levels of paralytic shellfish poison present in shellfish along this coastline. People should take note of the areas that contain high levels of Paralytic Shellfish Poison and avoid collecting shellfish in these areas,” says Medical Officer of Health, Dr Simon Baker.

Shellfish including; Kina, mussels, toheoa, pipis, tuatua, oysters, cockles and scallops in the affected areas should not be eaten. Cooking shellfish does not remove the toxin.

Symptoms of PSP usually occur within 12 hours after eating shellfish containing the toxins:

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

• Difficulties in swallowing or breathing.

• Dizziness, double vision.

• In severe cases, paralysis and respiratory failure.

If anybody experiences these symptoms after eating shellfish, the first action is to call 111 to get medical help.

Auckland Regional Public Health Service will continue to monitor the situation.

ENDS

Further information is available by visiting the following websites:
1. Food Smart website: http://www.foodsmart.govt.nz/food-safety/hunting-collecting-fishing/seafood-gatherers/
2. Auckland Regional Public Health Service website: http://www.arphs.govt.nz/health-information/healthy-environments/shellfish

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