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Consumers Urged Not to Eat Sport-Harvested Shellfish from Santa Barbara County, Rock Crab from Channel Islands

Date: 5/5/2017
Number: 17-044
Contact: Ali Bay - (916) 440-7259 

SACRAMENTO – The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) today warned consumers not to eat recreationally harvested bivalve shellfish, including mussels, clams and whole scallops, from Santa Barbara County. The health advisory includes rock crab caught in state waters around Santa Rosa Island and the northern Channel Islands. Dangerous levels of domoic acid have been detected in mussels and rock crab from this region, making them unsafe to consume.

Domoic acid is a naturally occurring toxin that can cause illness or death in humans. It is also often called Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning (ASP). 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.

CDPH also issued an April 28 news release urging consumers not to eat recreationally harvested bivalve shellfish from Ventura County. That warning is still in place.

Although no cases of human poisoning from domoic acid have been reported in California, 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, coma or death.

For current information on shellfish advisories and quarantines, call CDPH's toll-free Shellfish Information Line at (800) 553-4133. For additional information, visit the CDPH Marine Biotoxin Monitoring Web page and CDPH's Domoic Acid health information Web page.

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