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Shellfish harvesting closed in parts of county due to red tide
BREMERTON — Marine biotoxins that cause paralytic shellfish poisoning, also known as PSP and red tide, have been detected in high levels in a shellfish sample from the eastern shore of Kitsap County, the Kitsap Public Health District reports.
The Health District and the state Department of Health have closed shorelines for all species of clams, oysters and mussels on the east side of Kitsap County from Point White on Bainbridge Island south to the Kitsap-Pierce County line. This closure includes Blake Island.
Samples of mussels collected on July 10, from Clam Bay, contained PSP toxin concentrations of 226 micrograms per 100 grams of shellfish tissue, the Health District reports. Shorelines are closed to harvesting when toxin levels exceed 80 micrograms per 100 grams of tissue. Warning signs have been posted at public beaches alerting people not to collect shellfish from the closure areas.
This closure is in addition to an ongoing butter clam closure that remains in effect for the east side of Kitsap County from Point Jefferson south to Blake Island, including all of Bainbridge Island. This includes all bays, inlets, and passages including Port Madison Bay, Miller Bay, Agate Pass and Rich Passage.
Shrimp and crab are not included in this closure, but crabs should be cleaned prior to cooking and the “crab butter” should be discarded. Shellfish harvested commercially that are available in stores and restaurants are tested for toxin prior to distribution, and are safe to eat, the Health District reports.
Marine biotoxins are not destroyed by cooking or freezing and can be life-threatening. People can become ill from eating shellfish contaminated with the naturally occurring marine algae that contains toxins that are harmful to humans. Symptoms of PSP can appear within minutes or hours and usually begin with tingling lips and tongue, moving to the hands and feet, followed by difficulty breathing and potentially death, according to the Health District. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should contact a health care provider; for extreme reactions, call 911.
In most cases, the algae that contain the toxins cannot be seen and must be detected using laboratory testing. Kitsap Public Health will continue to monitor shellfish at Kitsap County beaches, and notify the public if the levels of PSP toxin become unsafe in other areas.
For current shellfish closures within Kitsap County, call 1-800-2BEWELL or visit www.kitsappublichealth.org. For closures in other areas of Washington, call the state Department of Health’s Red Tide Hotline, 1-800-562-5632, or visit www.doh.wa.gov.