Tasmanians have been warned not to eat wild shellfish from a number of south eastern Tasmanian waters, due to a toxic algal bloom.
Public Health acting director Dr Kelly Shaw said eating wild shellfish from the affected area may result in paralytic shellfish poisoning.
The public health alert applies to Port Esperance, Hastings Bay (Southport) and the coastline between.
“Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning, or PSP, is caused by eating shellfish containing toxins that are produced by certain algae,” she said.
“These algae occur naturally and are not a health concern at low levels. Algal blooms are regular events in south eastern Tasmania at this time of year and the current increase in numbers is not unexpected.
“With the current favourable weather conditions, we’ve seen the algae rapidly ‘bloom’. This natural process leads to toxins accumulating in the shellfish as they feed on the algae, temporarily making the shellfish dangerous to eat.”
Do not eat the following seafood from the affected area:
•scallops with roe
•the gut of abalone, crab and crayfish.
Cooking does not destroy the toxins.
Scallops eaten without the roe do not pose a risk. Abalone, crab and crayfish are safe to eat, but the gut should be removed before eating.
Symptoms of PSP include tingling in the mouth and extremities, pins and needles, unsteadiness on the feet, weakness of the arms or legs and nausea. Anyone experiencing these symptoms after eating wild seafood from or near the affected area should seek immediate medical attention.
High levels of PSP toxins can be fatal in extreme cases. Children are more susceptible.
Dr Shaw reminded Tasmanians to always buy shellfish from approved retail outlets.
This article first appeared in Hangzhou Night Net.