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CDPH Warns Consumers Not To Eat the Viscera of Crab Caught Near Bodega Bay and Russian River

Date: November 1, 2018
Number: 18-054
Contact: Corey Egel | 916.440.7259 | cdphpress@cdph.ca.gov
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SACRAMENTO - The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is advising consumers not to consume the viscera (internal organs) of Dungeness crab caught near Bodega Head and Russian River in Sonoma County. This warning is due to the detection of elevated levels of domoic acid, a naturally occurring toxin.

While domoic acid levels may vary, consumers should always follow these best preparation practices to avoid any inadvertent exposure to domoic acid that might be found in the crab's viscera. When whole crab are cooked in liquid, domoic acid may leach from the viscera into the cooking liquid. Water or broth used to cook whole crab should be discarded and not used to prepare dishes such as sauces, broths, soups or stews (for example, cioppino or gumbo), stocks, roux, dressings or dips. Cooking crabs neither decreases nor destroys the toxin. The viscera usually contain higher levels of domoic acid than the meat, so consumers are advised to discard the viscera and cooking liquids.

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, cardiovascular instability, seizures, excessive bronchial secretions, permanent loss of short-term memory, coma or death.

CDPH continues to coordinate its efforts with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the fishing community to collect and test crab samples from the impacted areas until domoic acid levels have dissipated. 

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 Domoic Acid webpage.

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