For Immediate Release
Contact: Michael Dawson, Water Quality Manager
Jefferson County Public Health
Port Townsend, WA Recent shellfish samples were found to contain elevated levels of the marine biotoxin that causes Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP). As a result, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) has closed Fort Flagler, Mystery Bay, and Kilisut Harbor for recreational shellfish harvest for all species of mollusks. This does not include crabs and shrimp. Danger signs have been posted at public access points warning people not to consume shellfish from this area.
PSP can be fatal. Illness is caused by eating shellfish contaminated with toxins from the naturally occurring marine plankton Alexandrium. Biotoxins are not destroyed by cooking. 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 paralysis. Anyone experiencing any of these symptoms after consuming shellfish should contact a health care provider immediately. For extreme reactions call 911.
During the warmer months, the naturally occurring Vibrio bacteria within shellfish is a concern. Hood Canal currently has a Vibrio bacteria warning. The public should cook recreationally harvested shellfish from Hood Canal to 145°F internal temperature for 15 seconds. Additionally, there are still shellfish closures in Discovery Bay, Quilcene Bay and Dabob Bay due to Diarrhetic Shellfish Poisoning (DSP). Public access points are posted with the appropriate warning signs, and the DOH Shellfish Safety Map has up-to-date information for shellfish harvesting throughout Washington at www.doh.wa.gov/ShellfishSafety.htm. Recreational harvesters should also check Fish and Wildlife regulations and seasons at wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish or the Shellfish Rule Change Hotline 1-866-880-5431.
Always Working for a Safer & Healthier Jefferson County