Wild shellfish warning

Health authorities have warned people not to eat wild shellfish from the Huon Estuary, including Port Cygnet, after paralytic shellfish toxins were found in oyster samples.

The Director of Public Health Dr Roscoe Taylor said because of a hazardous algal bloom in the area shellfish may be toxic and potentially fatal if eaten.

"Toxins accumulate in the shellfish as they feed on algae that contain toxins, temporarily making them dangerous to eat," Dr Taylor said.

"Paralytic shellfish poisoning is caused by eating shellfish containing toxins produced by certain naturally occurring algae.

"At high levels these toxins can be fatal in extreme cases, and children are most at risk."

Dr Taylor said the public health alert applied to the Huon Estuary and Port Cygnet.

Dr Taylor warned people not eat the following seafood from the area:

  • oysters
  • mussels
  • clams/pipis
  • scallops with roe
  • the gut of crab or rock lobster.

Cooking does not destroy the toxins.

Dr Taylor said symptoms of PSP included 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."

Dr Taylor reminded Tasmanians to always buy shellfish from approved retail outlets.

"The shellfish you buy from shops is safe, because we closely monitor Tasmania's commercial shellfish industry.

"People harvesting and consuming shellfish from other areas may be placing themselves at risk from a range of infections."

For more information call the Public Health Hotline on 1800 671 738 or visit www.dhhs.tas.gov.au/peh/tsqap/recreational_harvesting_of_bivalve_shellfish

7 June 2014