Saturday, August 4, 2018

Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning

Paralytic shellfish poisoning is a serious illness caused by eating shellfish contaminated with dinoflagellate algae that produce harmful toxins. The toxicity of paralytic shellfish poisoning toxins is estimated to be 1,000 times greater than cyanide and symptoms appear soon after consuming toxic shellfish.

Only a few marine animals accumulate these toxins. Shellfish, including hard-shell clams, soft-shell clams, oysters, mussels, and scallops, are particularly prone to contamination as they feed by filtering microscopic food out of the water.

At lease there are 21 molecular forms of paralytic shellfish poisoning toxins. Collectively, these paralytic shellfish poisoning toxins are termed saxitoxins, deriving the name from the butter clam, Saxidomus giganteus, where saxitoxins were originally extracted and identified.

Clinical illness is characterized by neurological symptoms such as paresthesia and/or paralysis involving the mouth, face, neck and extremities, which may be accompanied by gastrointestinal symptoms, which usually resolve within a few hours to a few days. In severe cases, ataxia, dysphonia, dysphagia and muscle paralysis with respiratory arrest and death may occur within 12 hours.

Who is most at risk? Anyone who eats non-commercially harvested shellfish is at risk for Paralytic shellfish poisoning.
Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning
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