Shellfish warning still in place

A public health warning not to eat shellfish from Queen Charlotte Sound and Tory Channel remains in place while toxin testing continues.

After the outcome of this week's test results, to be revealed today, , the Nelson Marlborough District Health Board will decide if its recommendation remains in place.

Last week's tests revealed levels of toxin-producing algae in Queen Charlotte Sound remained high.

Nelson Marlborough medical officer of health Dr Ed Kiddle said the toxin meant the shellfish were likely to make people sick.

Dr Kiddle confirmed no person from the Nelson Marlborough region had showed symptoms for paralytic shellfish poisoning.

He could not predict how long the public health warning would be in place. "Last week's testing was above the regulatory level," he said.

"Historically looking at last year's pattern the situation went on for two months."

It is the third week the warning has been in place.

Recreational areas covered by the health board and commercial waters areas which cover shellfish and oyster farms need two clear test results before the exclusion can be lifted. Dr Kiddle advised people not to eat kina, mussels, pipi, tuatua, oysters and cockles harvested from affected areas.

In Queen Charlotte Sound, including Tory Channel, the toxin can cause paralytic shellfish poisoning with symptoms of numbness and tingling around the mouth, face or extremities; difficulty swallowing or breathing; dizziness; double vision.

In severe cases, paralysis and respiratory failure can occur.

Cooking affected shellfish does not remove the toxin, he said.

People who want more information about the safety of shellfish in their possession should contact the on call health protection officer on (03) 520 9999 Blenheim.

People who become ill after eating shellfish should seek medical attention.

The Marlborough Express