The Washington State Department of Health has closed the Hood Canal No. 1 Growing Area for the recreational harvest of all species of shellfish after finding marine biotoxins that cause …
The Washington State Department of Health has closed the Hood Canal No. 1 Growing Area for the recreational harvest of all species of shellfish after finding marine biotoxins that cause Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) in the area.
The shellfish harvesting ban includes some areas south of the Hood Canal Bridge, such as Hicks County Park, Case Shoal, DNR 57 B and DNR 59.
In Jefferson County, most of the recreational shellfish harvesting beaches have been closed due the rapid spread of marine biotoxins. All previous closures from this summer are still in effect, health officials noted.
Danger signs have been posted at public access points by Jefferson County Public Health.
The closure includes clams, oysters, mussels, scallops, and other species of molluscan shellfish.
The ban doesn’t include commercially harvested shellfish, because those are tested for toxins prior to distribution.
Officials also noted that while crabmeat is not known to contain the PSP biotoxin, the guts can contain unsafe levels. To be safe, people should clean crab thoroughly and discard the guts (sometimes called the “crab butter”).
Marine biotoxins are not destroyed by cooking or freezing, health officials stressed, and people can become ill from eating shellfish contaminated with the naturally occurring marine algae containing toxins harmful to humans.
Symptoms of PSP can appear within minutes or hours and usually begin with tingling lips and tongue, moving to the hands and feet, followed by difficulty breathing, and potentially death. Anyone experiencing such symptoms should contact a health care provider immediately. For extreme reactions, call 911.
Officials said that in most cases, the algae that contains the toxins cannot be seen and must be detected using laboratory testing. Recreational shellfish harvesters should visit www.doh.wa.gov/ShellfishSafety.htm or call the Biotoxin Hotline at 1-800-562-5632.