State advises consumers to avoid recreationally harvested shellfish

Mussels, clams or whole scallops harvested in Los Angeles County could cause illness or death.

MARINA DEL REY — A consumer advisory issued by California’s Department of Public Health (DPH) warned against consumption of recreationally harvested clams, mussels and whole scallops from Los Angeles County.

Health officials have detected “dangerous levels of domoic acid” in the bivalve shellfish species harvested near Marina del Rey, according to a DPH statement.

“This naturally occurring toxin can cause Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning (ASP) and possibly lead to illness or death in humans,” DPH officials said in a released statement.

The DPH warning only applies to recreationally harvested shellfish in Los Angeles County. Clams, mussels, oysters or scallops sold by approved commercial sources are exempt from the warning.

“State law permits only state-certified commercial shellfish harvesters or dealers to sell these products. Shellfish sold by certified harvesters and dealers are subject to frequent mandatory testing to monitor for toxins,” DPH staff stated in its official warning.

DPH’s warning included a statement of possible symptoms.

“Symptoms of domoic acid poisoning can occur within 30 minutes to 24 hours after eating toxic seafood. In mild cases, symptoms may include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, headache and dizziness,” the DPH warning stated. “These symptoms disappear within several days. In severe cases, the victim may experience trouble breathing, confusion, disorientation, cardiovascular instability, seizures, excessive bronchial secretions, permanent loss of short-term memory, coma or death.

“No cases of human poisoning from domoic acid are known to have occurred in California,” DPH staff confirmed.

The DPH advisory coincides with the May 1 mussel quarantine issues; the quarantine applies to all mussels species harvested along the California coast, local bays and estuaries. The statewide quarantine would remain in effect through at least Oct. 31, DPH staff added.

Up-to-date information on shellfish advisories and quarantines is available on a DPH hotline, which can be reached at 800-533-4133.

Department of Fish and Wildlife photo

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