Toxic shellfish warning in Auckland

SARAH HARVEY
Last updated 11:38 20/12/2012
Toxic shellfish warning
Auckland Regional Public Health Service

NO-GO ZONE: Shellfish from Auckland's west coast could be toxic, officials warn.

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Shellfish from the Manukau Harbour and Auckland's west coast beaches could contain the same poison that hospitalised people in the Bay of Plenty, health officials have warned.

Auckland Regional Public Health Service clinical director Dr Julia Peters said shellfish from the Waitemata Harbour and North Shore beaches were still safe at this stage.

Twenty people were poisoned in the past week after eating shellfish collected in the Bay of Plenty.
Peters warned people against eating shellfish from the coast between Taranaki and Maunganui Bluff, just north of Dargaville. This included the Manukau Harbour.

She said symptoms of toxic shellfish poisoning include numbness and tingling around the mouth, face, fingers and toes, difficulties in swallowing or breathing, dizziness, double vision and, in severe cases, paralysis and the stopping of breathing.

"If someone you know does eat shellfish and becomes sick, seek urgent medical attention, keep any shellfish you have left over, and contact your local public health unit," she said.

The health warning applies to all bi-valve shellfish including mussels, pipi, tuatua, cockles, oysters, scallops as well as cat's eyes and kina (sea urchin).

Paua, crayfish and crabs can still be taken but as always, the gut should be removed before cooking.

Peters said it was also a timely reminder for people about safe swimming - including being aware of jellyfish, sun safety, alcohol safety and food safety.

Peters said during summer the health service would sometimes receive reports of swimmers suffering from rashes caused by stings from jellyfish on Auckland's beaches.

She said, generally, those affected had an itchy red rash in areas covered by swimwear. The rash could vary from slight discomfort to severe and could last for a week or more. Children were more at risk.

Calamine lotion, antihistamines and mild steroid creams could be helpful.

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