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Quarantine Declared On Toxic Mussels Harvested Along California Coast

VENTURA (CBSLA) — A quarantine has been declared for all mussels harvested by the public along the California coast due to hazardous levels of a toxin that can cause paralytic shellfish poisoning.

San Pedro White Point marine harvest
SAN PEDRO, CA - JULY 07: Marine creatures are harvested from a tidepool at White Point on Tuesday, July 7, 2020 in San Pedro, CA. Snails, mussels and sea urchins are among the items used in Asian dishes. Large crowds began turning out a month ago, about the time lockdown orders were lifted. (Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

The quarantine on mussels taken by the recreational harvesters takes effect Saturday, but does not apply to commercially harvested shellfish. Consumers are also being warned not to eat any mussels, clams, or whole scallops they have caught in the waters off Ventura County due to dangerous levels of domoic acid that have been detected in mussels sampled from the area.

Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning, or PSP, can cause tingling around the mouth and fingertips within a few minutes to a few hours after eating toxic shellfish. It is typically followed by disturbed balance, lack of muscular coordination, slurred speech and difficulty swallowing, and severe cases can lead to complete muscular paralysis and death from asphyxiation. Domoic Acid Poisoning, or DAP, symptoms can occur within 30 to 24 hours of eating toxic seafood and include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, headache, and dizziness. In severe cases, DAP poisoning victims can experience difficulty breathing, disorientation, cardiovascular instability, seizures, permanent loss of short-term memory, coma or death.

There is no known antidote to either toxins and cooking does not reliably destroy them.

Mussels can be sold for bait, but must include a clear warning label that they are unfit for humans consumption.

The quarantine is in effect until at least Oct. 31, 2021.

For more information, call the state Department of Public Health's Shellfish Information Hotline at (800) 553-4133.

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