Toxic shellfish poison seven

Last updated 16:06 15/12/2012

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Seven people have been hospitalised in the last 24 hours with toxic shellfish poisoning.

Five went to Rotorua Hospital and two to Tauranga Hospital with symptoms ranging from tingling round the mouth and face, tingling of the skin on their arms and hands, mild weakness when walking, and diarrhoea and vomiting.

Each person affected had eaten shellfish collected from between Mount Maunganui and Papamoa despite there being a warning in place since August not to do so.

The health warning was established because high levels of paralytic poison were found in shellfish along a significant stretch of coastline from Tairua on the east coast of the Coromandel Peninsula, south to Waihi Beach and along the Bay of Plenty coast to Whakatane Heads in the Eastern Bay of Plenty. 

All bi-valve shellfish including mussels, pipi, tuatua, cockles, oysters, scallops as well as cat’s-eyes and kina (sea urchin) are included but paua, crayfish and crabs can still be taken.

Consumption of shellfish affected by the paralytic toxin can cause numbness and tingling around the mouth, face or extremities; difficulty swallowing or breathing; dizziness; double vision; and in severe cases, paralysis and respiratory failure.

The symptoms usually occur within 12 hours of a person eating the affected shellfish.

The warning includes Tairua Harbour as well as Tauranga Harbour, Maketu and Waihi estuaries, Matakana and Motiti islands, and all other inshore islands along the coastline. 

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