Two still in hospital after eating shellfish

BRIDGET JONES
Last updated 12:41 16/12/2012

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Two men remain in a stable condition in Rotorua Hospital with toxic shellfish poisoning.

The pair were among seven people hospitalised over the weekend - five in Rotorua and two in Tauranga - with symptoms ranging from tingling around the mouth and face, tingling of the skin on their arms and hands, mild weakness, and diarrhoea and vomiting.  

The five other people were treated and discharged.

Each person had eaten shellfish collected from the coastline between Mount Maunganui and Papamoa, despite there being a warning in place since August not to do so after high levels of paralytic poison were found in shellfish in the area.

Medical Officer of Health, Dr Phil Shoemack said the spike in reported cases was a reminder for people to be mindful of the dangers associated with toxic shellfish.

"We have had reports that people have been continuing to eat shellfish and have felt unwell after doing so. The toxins can make people very ill and we strongly advise not consuming shellfish from any part of the affected area," said Dr Shoemack.

"The cases seen at local hospitals in the past day is a stark reminder of the risk of ignoring the warning."

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 health warning runs 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 are included but paua, crayfish and crabs can still be taken.

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