The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is updating its warning to consumers regarding certain seafood caught in Monterey, Santa Cruz and Santa Barbara counties due to the detection of dangerous levels of domoic acid, a naturally occurring toxin.
Previously, the CDPH health advisory dated June 8, 2015, warned consumers not to eat recreationally caught mussels and clams and included the internal organs (viscera) of scallops and the internal organs of commercially or recreationally harvested anchovy, crabs and sardines. CDPH’s current test results of a variety of seafood samples have detected elevated domoic acid levels in the meat as well as the internal organs and viscera in several species.
CDPH is updating its health advisory to warn consumers not to eat recreationally harvested mussels and clams, commercially or recreationally caught anchovy and sardines or commercially or recreationally caught crabs taken from Monterey, Santa Cruz and Santa Barbara counties.
Domoic acid accumulation in seafood is a natural occurrence that is related to a ‘bloom’ of a particular single-celled plant. The conditions that support the growth of this plant are impossible to predict. CDPH will continue its efforts to collect a variety of molluscan bivalve shellfish, fin fish and crab samples from these areas to monitor the level of domoic acid in seafood.
This warning does not apply to commercially sold clams, mussels, scallops or oysters from approved sources. 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.
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 trouble breathing, confusion, disorientation, cardiovascular instability, seizures, excessive bronchial secretions, permanent loss of short-term memory (a condition known as Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning), coma or death. There have been no reported illnesses associated with this event.
To receive updated information about shellfish poisoning and quarantines, call CDPH’s toll-free Shellfish Information Line at (800) 553-4133. For additional information visit CDPH’s Natural Marine Toxins: PSP and Domoic Acid Web page.