King County shorelines closed to shellfish harvesting since August 3

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Seattle-King County Public Health says Paralytic Shellfish Poison (PSP) levels pose health risk

Paralytic Shellfish Poison (PSP) at levels that could make people seriously ill has been detected in shellfish samples collected along King County shorelines. As a result, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) has closed all of King County to the recreational harvest of shellfish.

Public Health - Seattle and King County is posting advisory along 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.

A person cannot determine if PSP toxin is present by looking at the water or shellfish. For this reason, the term "red tide" is misleading. 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  before harvesting shellfish anywhere in Puget Sound.

Providing effective and innovative health and disease prevention services for over 1.9 million residents and visitors of King County, Public Health - Seattle and King County works for safer and healthier communities for everyone, every day.


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