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Warning issued on shellfish in Cape West Coast

by BuaNews Online
on 09 Apr 2008
BuaNews Online
BuaNews Online

Members of the public have been advised not to collect or eat any shellfish, oysters and abalone on the West Coast (north of Cape Point) until further notice from the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism.

This comes after fisheries control inspectors found dead perlemoen caught up in shallow waters at Melkbosstrand, north of Cape Town, on Saturday.

The department has received the results of tests carried out on samples that were taken over the weekend and low levels of toxins of Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning were detected in the abalone.

The department is continuously monitoring the situation.

"We continue to recommend that the public do not collect and/or eat any shellfish, especially mussels, oysters and abalone, on the West Coast (north of Cape Point) until further advised," says the department.

Marine and Coastal Management spokesperson Maryke Brand told BuaNews that so far no incidences of people falling ill because of shellfish have been reported.

She warned that consumption of the affected shellfish can be fatal especially when a doctor is not consulted on time.

"At the moment, we advised people to stop collecting shellfish until we are certain that it is safe to do so," she said.

Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning is caused by Harmful Algal Blooms of a specific dinoflagellate, Aleandrium cantella, which occurs when toxic phytoplankton that are typically taken up from the water by shellfish such as mussels and oysters, then accumulate the algal toxins to levels that are potentially dangerous to humans and other consumers.

The first symptoms of Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning are a tingling, stinging or burning sensation of the lips, tongue and fingertips within 30 minutes of eating poisonous shellfish.

Numbness of the arms, legs and neck follows. If these symptoms are experienced, a doctor should be consulted immediately. - BuaNews

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