People should not eat shellfish collected from the North Island's west coast, including Whanganui, because of high toxin levels.

The Ministry for Primary Industries issued an alert after paralytic shellfish toxins over the safe limit were found in shellfish. The ban area extends from Port Waikato to the Manawatū River at Foxton Beach.

Mussels, oysters, tuatua, pipi, toheroa, cockles, scallops, catseyes, kina (sea urchin) and all other bivalve shellfish are affected. Cooking does not remove the toxin.

Pāua, crab and crayfish can be eaten if the gut is completely removed before cooking. If the gut is not removed, its contents could contaminate the meat during the cooking process.

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Anyone who becomes ill after eating shellfish should phone Healthline on 0800 61 11 16 or seek medical attention immediately.

Symptoms of paralytic shellfish poisoning usually appear between 10 minutes and three hours after eating shellfish. Symptoms may include numbness and tingling around the mouth, face, hands and feet; difficulty swallowing or breathing; dizziness; headache; nausea; vomiting; diarrhoea; paralysis and respiratory failure and, in severe cases, death.