Shellfish warning for Northern Hawke’s Bay coastline

Shellfish warning for Northern Hawke’s Bay coastline

shellfish_warning_-_mb-hawkes-bay-imgHawke’s Bay District Health Board issued a ‘Health Warning’ on 25 May and advised that shellfish along the Hawke’s Bay coastline between Whareongaonga (approximately 22 kilometres north of Mahia) and Mohaka River should not be eaten due to dangerous levels of Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) toxin.

The Ministry for Primary Industries’ latest shellfish sample from Opoutama Beach taken last week has returned with a PSP Toxin level of 1.2 milligrams of toxin per kilogram of shellfish flesh. This is over the Ministry of Primary Industries safe health limit of 0.8 milligrams per kg.

Kina, mussels, toheroa, pipis, tuatua, oysters and cockles from the closed area should not be eaten. Paua, crab, and crayfish may still be eaten if the gut has been completely removed prior to cooking, as toxins accumulate in the gut. If the gut is not removed its contents could contaminate the meat during the cooking process. Cooking affected shellfish does not remove the toxin.

Fish, such as snapper, gurnard, and terakihi are not affected by the algae and are still safe to eat. Anyone eating toxic shellfish in closed areas could be at risk of serious illness.

Symptoms of PSP can occur within 12 hours of eating affected seafood and can include:

*Numbness and a tingling (prickly feeling) around the mouth, face, and extremities first.

*Difficulty swallowing, or breathing.

*Headache, dizziness, and double vision.

*Severe cases may suffer respiratory arrest resulting in death if medical treatment is not immediately available.

If anyone becomes ill after eating shellfish from any area they should contact a doctor immediately and also advise the public health unit on (06) 878 1329. The public health unit has sent information to doctors, community groups and other authorities in the region.

Warning signs in the extended closure area are presently being erected at main shellfish collection and boat launching sites.

Anyone wanting further information can phone the Hawke’s Bay District Health Board’s Toxic Shellfish Information Line on (06) 878 1329. There is a pre-recorded message giving the latest sampling results, the status of the closure, and a facility for people to leave their contact details and a message if required.

Further sampling is being undertaken by the Ministry of Primary Industries. Information on the closure will be posted and updated on Hawke’s Bay District Health Board’s web site in the Public Health Unit’s area of the site.

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