The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is lifting the August 20 health advisory warning consumers not to eat recreationally harvested bivalve shellfish (i.e., mussels and clams), commercially or recreationally caught anchovies and sardines, or the internal organs of commercially or recreationally caught crab and lobster taken from Ventura County. Recent samples confirm that levels of domoic acid, a naturally occurring nerve toxin that can cause illness or death in humans, have declined to safe or undetectable levels. No cases of human poisoning from domoic acid are known to have occurred in California.
CDPH also reminds consumers that these two advisories remain in effect:
• Consumers are being reminded that the Health Advisory issued September 14, for the northern Channel Islands, remains in effect. This advisory warns consumers not to eat recreationally harvested mussels and clams, commercially or recreationally caught anchovy and sardines, or the internal organs of commercially or recreationally caught crab and lobster taken from the northern Channel Islands located offshore of Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. Dangerous levels of domoic acid have been detected in some of these species.
• The annual quarantine on the sport-harvesting of mussels along the entire California coastline, which took effect May 1, 2012, also remains in effect. This quarantine does not apply to commercially sold clams, mussels, scallops or oysters from approved sources. State law only permits state-certified commercial shellfish harvesters or dealers to sell these products. Shellfish sold by certified harvesters and dealers are subject to frequent mandatory testing.
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. These symptoms disappear within several days. In severe cases, the victim may experience difficulty breathing, confusion, disorientation, cardiovascular instability, seizures, excessive bronchial secretions, permanent loss of short term memory, coma and death. Additional information about shellfish and domoic acid is available on the CDPH website.
For updates about shellfish poisoning and quarantines, call CDPH’s toll-free “Shellfish Information Line” at (800) 553-4133.