The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) yesterday extended the public health warning for the Hawke's Bay region, advising the public not to collect or consume shellfish from the Mohaka River mouth down to the southern end of Waimarama Beach, including all coastline in between.
Routine tests on shellfish samples taken from the region have shown levels of Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) toxins of up to 1.4 mg/kg. This is above the safe limit of 0.8 mg/kg set by MPI. Anyone eating shellfish from this area is potentially at risk of illness.
Mussels, oysters, tuatua, pipi, toheroa, cockles, scallops, catseyes, kina (sea urchin) and all other bivalve shellfish should not be eaten.
Note: cooking shellfish does not remove the toxin.
Paua, crab and crayfish may still be eaten if the gut has been completely removed before cooking. If the gut is not removed its contents could contaminate the meat during the cooking process.
Symptoms typically appear between 10 minutes and 3 hours after ingestion and may include:
-Numbness and a tingling (prickly feeling) around the mouth, face, and extremities (hands and feet).
-Difficulty swallowing or breathing.
-Paralysis and respiratory failure and in severe cases, death.
If anyone becomes ill after eating shellfish from an area where a public health warning has been issued, phone Healthline for advice on 0800 61 11 16, or seek medical attention immediately. You are also advised to contact your nearest public health unit and keep any leftover shellfish for testing.
Monitoring of toxin levels will continue and any changes will be communicated accordingly. Commercially harvested shellfish - sold in shops and supermarkets, or exported - is subject to strict water and flesh monitoring programmes by MPI to ensure they are safe to eat.