Shellfish biotoxin alert between Hector and Greymouth extended

Friday 1 March 2019Media release2 minutes to read

West Coast District Health Board’s Community & Public Health team have extended the health warning advising the public not to collect or consume shellfish harvested from the South Island’s West Coast between Hector and Greymouth.

Oyster

Dr Cheryl Brunton, Medical Officer of Health, says routine tests on shellfish samples taken from this area has shown levels of Diarrhetic Shellfish Poisoning (DSP) toxins are above the safe limit of 0.16 mg/kg set by the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI).  Anyone eating shellfish from this area is potentially at risk of illness.

“Mussels, oysters, tuatua, pipi, toheroa, cockles, scallops, catseyes, kina (sea urchin) and all other bivalve shellfish should not be eaten.”

Dr Brunton warns that cooking shellfish does not remove the toxin. On-going testing will continue and any changes will be communicated accordingly.

“Symptoms of Diarrhetic Shellfish Poisoning typically appear within half an hour and can last for 24 hours.”

Symptoms may include:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal cramps

Dr Brunton says pāua, crab and crayfish may still be eaten if the gut has been completely removed prior to cooking, as toxins accumulate in the gut. If the gut is not removed its contents could contaminate the meat during the cooking process.

“If anyone becomes ill after eating shellfish from an area where a public health warning has been issued phone your usual General Practice team 24/7 and they can advise what to do. If it’s an emergency, phone 111. You are also advised to contact Community and Public Health on (03) 768 1160 and keep any leftover shellfish in case it can be tested.”

ENDS

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Page last updated: 1 March 2019

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