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Toxic shellfish along parts of the Bay of Plenty coast

27 March 2013

Reminder about toxic shellfish along parts of the Bay of Plenty coast

Bay of Plenty residents and visitors need to continue to be aware of the risk of paralytic shellfish toxin poisoning. “Levels of toxin found in shellfish along parts of the Bay of Plenty coastline remain high. Shellfish in the affected area should not be taken or eaten,” says Dr Neil de Wet, Medical Officer of Health.

The current health warning has been in place since August 2012. Toi Te Ora has a new Twitter account that people can follow for up-to-date information about the toxic shellfish warning and other health warnings and alerts. The Twitter account to follow is @TTOHealthAlerts. In addition to Twitter up-dates, Toi Te Ora provides information about the toxic shellfish health warning and other warnings and alerts through these channels:

• Phone: 0800 221 555
• Website:
• Email alerts for subscribers:
• Signage at locations (e.g. shellfish health warning signs at affected beaches)

The Medical Officer of Health strongly advises against the collection of shellfish from Tairua on the east coast of the Coromandel Peninsula, south to Waihi Beach and along the Bay of Plenty coast to Whakatane Heads in the Eastern Bay of Plenty. The warning includes Tairua Harbour as well as Tauranga Harbour, Maketu and Waihi estuaries, Matakana and Motiti Islands, and all other islands along this coastline.

The health warning applies to all bi-valve shellfish including mussels, pipi, tuatua, cockles, oysters, scallops as well as cat’s eyes, snails and kina (sea urchin). Shellfish containing toxic levels of paralytic shellfish poison don't look or taste any different from shellfish that are safe to eat. Cooking or freezing the shellfish does not remove the toxin. Paua, crayfish and crabs can still be taken but as always, the gut should be removed before consuming.

Consumption of shellfish affected by the paralytic shellfish toxin can cause numbness and tingling around the mouth, face, hands and feet; difficulty swallowing or breathing; dizziness; double vision; and in severe cases, paralysis and respiratory failure. These symptoms can start as soon as 1-2 hours after eating toxic shellfish and usually within 12 hours. Anyone suffering illness after eating shellfish should seek urgent medical attention.


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