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King County closed for all species of shellfish harvesting due to paralytic shellfish poison | Public Health – Seattle & King County

Paralytic Shellfish Poison (PSP) has been detected at levels of concern in shellfish samples collected from King County beaches. As a result, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) has closed King County to the recreational harvest of shellfish.

Public Health – Seattle & King County is posting advisory signs at beaches warning people to not collect shellfish. The closure includes clams, oysters, mussels, scallops, other species of mollusks and invertebrates such as the moon snail. Crabmeat is not known to contain the PSP toxin, but the guts can contain unsafe levels. To be safe, clean crab thoroughly and discard the guts (“butter”). This closure does not apply to shrimp.

Commercial beaches are sampled separately and commercial products should be safe to eat.

PSP poisoning can be life-threatening and is caused by eating shellfish containing a potent neurotoxin. A naturally occurring marine organism produces the toxin. The toxin is not destroyed by cooking or freezing.

A person cannot determine if PSP toxin is present by visual inspection of the water or shellfish. For this reason, the term "red tide" is misleading and inaccurate. PSP can only be detected by laboratory testing.

Recreational shellfish harvesting can be closed due to rising levels of PSP at any time. Therefore, harvesters are advised to call the DOH Biotoxin Hotline at 1-800-562-5632 or visit the Biotoxin Websitehttp://www.doh.wa.gov/ehp/sf/biotoxin.htm before harvesting shellfish anywhere in Puget Sound.

Providing effective and innovative health and disease prevention services for over 1.9 million residents and visitors of King County, Public Health – Seattle & King County works for safer and healthier communities for everyone, every day. More at www.kingcounty.gov/health

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