Meeting on Marine Biotoxin hazards in Quil Bay, Dabob Bay and south — Thurs evening at QCC

Here’s an excerpt from a press release from Jefferson County Public Health, with highlighting by me. This Thursday May 14 at the Quilcene Community Center (6:30pm) you can learn about our shellfish closures, the biotoxins responsible for the closures, and how to keep your family and friends out of harm’s way.
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> Shellfish samples from Hood Canal have been found to contain elevated levels of marine biotoxins that cause Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP). As a result, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) has extended the previous closure of Quilcene and Dabob Bays to include Hood Canal from Seal Rock south to the Jefferson/Mason County line. Shellfish harvested commercially are tested for toxin prior to distribution and should be safe to eat.
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> A special meeting has been scheduled at the Quilcene Community Center, Thursday, May 14th at 6:30 pm to discuss what is causing the closures last fall and now. Clara Hard from DOH will give a presentation and be available to answer questions. She will talk about why the areas are closed, the program that monitors harmful algae blooms and the health risks of the different biotoxins.
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> Danger signs are being posted at high-use beaches, warning people not to consume shellfish from this area. The closure includes clams, oysters, mussels, scallops and other species of molluscan shellfish. This closure does not apply to shrimp. Crabmeat is not known to contain the biotoxin but the guts can contain unsafe levels. To be safe, clean crab thoroughly and discard the guts (also known as the “butter”).
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> Marine biotoxins are not destroyed by cooking or freezing. People can become ill from eating shellfish contaminated with the naturally occurring marine algae containing toxins harmful to humans. Symptoms of PSP can appear within minutes or hours and usually begins with tingling lips and tongue, moving to the hands and feet, followed by difficulty breathing, and potentially death. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should contact a health care provider immediately. For extreme reactions call 911.
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> In most cases the algae that contain the toxins cannot be seen, and must be detected using laboratory testing. Therefore, recreational shellfish harvesters should check the DOH Shellfish Safety Map at doh.wa.gov/ShellfishSafety.htm or call the DOH Biotoxin Hotline at 1-800-562-5632 before harvesting shellfish anywhere in Washington State. Recreational harvesters should also check Fish and Wildlife regulations and seasons at wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish or call the Shellfish Rule Change Hotline 1-866-880-5431.

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