The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is updating its warning to consumers regarding certain seafood caught along the California coastline that may contain high levels of domoic acid. Advisories continue to be in place for:
- Consumers to avoid eating recreationally and commercially caught Dungeness and Rock crabs caught in waters between the Oregon border and the southern Santa Barbara County line, due to the persistent dangerous levels of domoic acid in these species.
- Consumers to avoid eating recreationally harvested bivalve shellfish (mussels and clams) from Humboldt or Del Norte counties. The white meat (adductor muscle) of scallops caught in these areas may be consumed; however, the viscera (internal organs) should be discarded.
However, an advisory is no longer in place for bivalve shellfish like mussels and clams or for small finfish like anchovies and sardines caught in the Santa Cruz, Monterey, or Santa Barbara County areas. Recent testing has determined that domoic acid has declined and remained at undetectable levels in samples of these species from these areas.
CDPH is continuing to work with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, which recently issued emergency regulations closing the recreational and commercial Rock crab fishery and delaying the start of the recreational and commercial Dungeness crab fishery between the Oregon border and the Ventura / Santa Barbara County Line due to dangerous levels of domoic acid found in crabs caught from these areas.
Domoic acid accumulation in seafood is a natural occurrence that is related to a ‘bloom’ of a particular single-celled plant in ocean waters. The conditions that support the growth of this plant are impossible to predict. CDPH will continue its efforts to collect a variety of samples from impacted areas to monitor the level of domoic acid in seafood.
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 information sheet and CDPH’s Domoic Acid health information page.