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DHHS Alert: East Coast wild shellfish warning – updated 15th August

August 22, 2016
Public Health

Shellfish
Public health authorities are reminding Tasmanians and warning visitors not to collect and eat wild shellfish from the east coast of Tasmania because of high toxin levels.

The waters along much of the east coast and south to the Tasman Peninsula and Frederick Henry Bay are now affected by blooms of toxin-producing algae, with high levels of toxins in shellfish.

Acting Director of Public Health Dr Mark Veitch said collecting and eating wild shellfish from affected areas on Tasmania’s east coast could cause shellfish poisoning.

“Shellfish feed on algae and concentrate the toxin. This makes them dangerous to eat and may cause serious and even fatal illness,” Dr Veitch said.

Two types of shellfish toxin have been detected – one causes paralysis, the other diarrhoea.

“The large scale of this algal bloom and the high levels of toxin in tested shellfish mean the risk of shellfish poisoning from eating shellfish collected from the wild is very real.”

People should not collect and eat wild oysters, mussels, clams, pipis, scallops from anywhere along the East Coast because they could be affected by toxins.

Dr Veitch warned cooking would not destroy the toxins.

Testing of waters and shellfish from Tasmania’s commercial growing areas has resulted in many commercial shellfish harvesting sites closing to prevent unsafe product reaching consumers.

Symptoms of paralytic shellfish poisoning included tingling and pins and needles around the mouth and face, hands, and feet; unsteadiness and weakness, blurred vision and sometimes difficulty talking, swallowing or breathing.

“If you have these symptoms after eating wild seafood please get immediate medical attention,” Dr Veitch said.

Call the Public Health Hotline – Tasmania on 1800 671 738 or visit www.dhhs.tas.gov.au/publichealth/alerts for more information.