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Health officials warn of poisonous toxin found in sport-harvested shellfish in SLO County

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Posted at 6:52 PM, Oct 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-29 02:50:08-04

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is advising people not to eat sport-harvested mussels, clams, or scallops from San Luis Obispo County.

State health officials say dangerous levels of paralytic shellfish poisoning toxins have been detected in mussels from San Luis Obispo as well as Humboldt counties. The naturally occurring PSP toxins can cause illness or death in humans. Cooking does not destroy the toxin.

The warning does not apply to commercially sold clams, mussels, scallops, or oysters from approved sources. Shellfish sold by certified harvesters and dealers are subject to frequent mandatory testing to monitor for toxins.

Health officials say PSP toxins affect the central nervous system, producing a tingling around the mouth and fingertips within a few minutes to a few hours after eating toxic shellfish. These symptoms are typically followed by loss of balance, lack of muscular coordination, slurred speech, and difficulty swallowing. In severe poisonings, complete muscular paralysis and death from asphyxiation can occur.

For the latest on shellfish advisories and quarantines, call CDPH's toll-free Shellfish Information Line at (800) 553-4133

This shellfish safety notification comes in addition to the annual mussel quarantine. The annual quarantine applies to all species of mussels harvested for human consumption along the California coast, as well as all bays and estuaries, and will continue through at least October 31.