SEATTLE (AP) — Washington health officials have closed Vashon-Maury Island’s Quartermaster Harbor beaches due to unsafe levels of a shellfish toxin.
The closure includes all species of shellfish including clams, geoduck, scallops, mussels, oysters and snails. The closure does not include crab or shrimp. Crabmeat is not known to contain the PSP toxin, but the guts can contain unsafe levels.
Commercial beaches are sampled separately and commercial products should be safe to eat, according to the Washington State Department of Health.
Anyone who eats paralytic shellfish poison-contaminated shellfish is at risk for illness. PSP poisoning can be life-threatening. A naturally occurring marine organism produces the toxin. The toxin is not destroyed by cooking or freezing.
Symptoms of PSP usually begin 30-60 minutes after eating the contaminated shellfish, but may take several hours. Symptoms are generally mild, and begin with numbness or tingling of the face, arms, and legs. This is followed by headache, dizziness, nausea, and loss of muscle coordination.
Sometimes a floating sensation occurs. In cases of severe poisoning, muscle paralysis and respiratory failure occur, and in these cases death may occur in two to 25 hours.