The New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries issued a shellfish biotoxin alert in the region of North Island West Coast on 9 October. Affected area covers from Waipapakauri on 90 Mile Beach, south to Pouto Point on the northern head of the Kaipara Harbour. This includes the Herekino, Whangape and Hokianga Harbours. Affected shellfish include mussels, oysters, tuatua, pipi, toheroa, cockles, scallops, catseyes, kina (sea urchin) and all other bivalve shellfish. Poisoning type of this alert is PSP (Paralytic shellfish poisoning ). People who are poisoned after eating toxic shellfish may experience numbness and prickly feeling around the mouth, face, and extremities (hands and feet). Swallowing or breathing may become difficult. Other symptoms include dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.
What is Shellfish Biotoxin?
Toxic macromolecule compounds can be transmitted from the toxic algae in the ocean to the algae-eating fish, shrimp and shellfish through the food chain. The toxin then is accumulated in their bodies and transmitted to people who eat them.
Shellfish and seawater samples are taken every week from popular shellfish gathering areas around New Zealand and are tested for the presence of toxic algae. If the shellfish are not safe to eat, then public health warnings are issued and signs are posted at affected beaches. People can not collect or eat shellfish from areas where shellfish biotoxin warnings have been issued.
What are the types of Shellfish Poisoning?
There are 4 main kinds of toxic shellfish poisoning.