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Shellfish health warning issued for part of Bay of Plenty

MEDIA RELEASE - Shellfish health warning issued for part of Bay of Plenty coastline

A health warning has been issued for the Bay of Plenty coastline, from Mount Maunganui, including Maunganui Beach and Pilot Bay, to Whakatane Heads. Routine monitoring within this area has found increased levels of Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) toxin in shellfish samples while water samples have shown increased levels of the algae that produce the PSP toxin.

“Levels of toxin found in shellfish from this area are now above a safe level. With the better weather and holidays approaching, I would like to advise residents and visitors to the Bay of Plenty that there is now a health warning in place and signage will be erected in the affected area,” says Dr Neil de Wet, Medical Officer of Health for Toi Te Ora – Public Health Service.

Dr de Wet strongly advises against the collection of shellfish from Mount Maunganui and along the Bay of Plenty coast to Whakatane Heads in the Eastern Bay of Plenty. The warning includes all islands and estuaries along this part of the 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 in the affected area should not be taken or eaten. Shellfish containing the toxin 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 PSP 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.

“Paralytic shellfish poisoning can be a serious condition. It is advisable not to take the risk and so important to avoid collecting or eating shellfish from the affected areas,” says Dr de Wet.

Up-to-date information on the toxic shellfish health warning and other health warnings can be found through these channels:

Website: www.ttophs.govt.nz/health_warnings
Twitter: www.twitter.com/ttophs
Email alerts for subscribers: www.ttophs.govt.nz/alert
Signage at locations (i.e. shellfish health warning signs at affected beaches)

ENDS

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