Health officials expand shellfish harvesting closures

A bloom of paralytic shellfish poisoning has led officials to expand the closure of recreational shellfish to Dyes and Sinclair Inlets.

Officials from the Washington State Department of Health and the Kitsap Public Health District said the expanded warning effectively closes the entire eastern shoreline of Kitsap County from Point Jefferson to the Pierce County Line and includes all bays and inlets.

Samples of mussels collected on Aug. 6 and Aug. 7. from multiple sites contained Paralitic Shellfish Poisioning toxins ranging from 96 to 694 micrograms per 100 grams of shellfish tissue. Shorelines are closed when toxin levels exceed 80 micrograms per 100 grams of tissue.

The principal toxin responsible for PSP is saxitoxin, a neurotoxin produced by microscopic algae, which builds up in shellfish as the filter feed.

All species of clams, oysters and mussels are included in the warning. Shrimp and crabs are not included, but officials said crabs should be cleaned prior to cooking and “crab butter” should be discarded.

Toxins are not destroyed by cooking or freezing and can cause illness and death.

Symptoms can appear in minutes or hours and usually start with tingling lips and tongue with the tingling then moving to hands and feet. Further symptoms include difficulty breathing and potential death.

Health officials said anyone experiencing such symptoms should contact a health care provider and in the case of an extreme reaction contact 911.


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