Shellfish biotoxin alert – Marlborough Sounds

Date:
Media contact: MPI media team
Telephone: 029 894 0328

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) today issued a public health warning against collecting shellfish in the Pelorus Sound, excluding the upper Kenepuru Sound. The warning extends outwards to a line from Paparoa Point to Culdaff Point.

Routine tests on shellfish samples taken from this region have shown levels of paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) toxins above the safe limit of 0.8 mg/kg set by MPI. Anyone eating shellfish from this area is potentially at risk of illness.

Symptoms typically appear between 10 minutes and 3 hours after ingestion and may include:

  • numbness and a tingling (prickly feeling) around the mouth, face, and extremities (hands and feet)
  • difficulty swallowing or breathing
  • dizziness
  • headache
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhoea
  • paralysis and respiratory failure and in severe cases, death.

If anyone becomes ill after eating shellfish from an area where a public health warning has been issued, phone Healthline for advice on 0800 61 11 16, or seek medical attention immediately. You are also advised to contact your nearest public health unit and keep any leftover shellfish in case it can be tested.

Monitoring of toxin levels will continue and any changes will be communicated accordingly. Commercially harvested shellfish – sold in shops and supermarkets, or exported – is subject to strict water and flesh monitoring programmes by MPI to ensure they are safe to eat.

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