Beaches Closed To Shellfish Harvesting Due To Paralytic Shellfish Poison
Public Health – Seattle & King County announced Wednesday (Sept. 1st) that Paralytic Shellfish Poison (PSP) has been detected at “levels of concern” in shellfish samples collected along county shorelines, and as a result, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) has closed all of King County to the recreational harvest of shellfish, including the shorelines of Burien.
Advisory signs are being posted along area beaches and harbors warning people to not collect shellfish from these areas. The closure includes clams, oysters, mussels, scallops and other species of mollusks. Crabs and shrimp are not included in the closure.
Commercial beaches are sampled separately and commercial products should be safe to eat.
PSP poisoning can be life-threatening and is caused by eating shellfish containing a potent neurotoxin. A naturally occurring marine organism produces the toxin.
The toxin is not destroyed by cooking or freezing.
According to Wikipedia:
PSP can be fatal in extreme cases (particularly in those who are already immuno-suppressed). Children are more susceptible. PSP affects those who come into contact with the affected shellfish by ingestion. Ten to thirty minutes after ingestion, symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and tingling or burning lips, gums, tongue, face, neck, arms, legs, and toes. Shortness of breath, dry mouth, a choking feeling, confused or slurred speech, and lack of coordination are also possible.
A person cannot determine if PSP toxin is present by visual inspection of the water or shellfish. For this reason, the term “red tide” is misleading and inaccurate. PSP can only be detected by laboratory testing.
Recreational shellfish harvesting can be closed due to rising levels of PSP at any time. Therefore, harvesters are advised to call the DOH Biotoxin Hotline at 1-800-562-5632 or visit the Biotoxin Website: http://www.doh.wa.gov/ehp/sf/biotoxin.htm before harvesting shellfish anywhere in Puget Sound.