12 Coastal Areas Positive for Paralytic Shellfish Poison in the Philippines

A total of 12 coastal areas in the Philippines are confirmed positive for paralytic shellfish poison. The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) announced yesterday.

What is Paralytic Shellfish Poison?

Paralytic shellfish poison is caused by the natural production of marine biotoxins by some species of microscopic algae. It is one of the four recognized syndromes of shellfish poisoning. Shellfishes that are affected include mussels, clams, oysters, and scallops. These shellfish are filter feeders and accumulate neurotoxins, chiefly saxitoxin, produced by microscopic algae, such as dinoflagellates, diatoms, and cyanobacteria. It is known that in most parts of Asia, PSP is mostly associated with the occurrence of the species Pyrodinium bahamense. Moreover, pufferfish (including the chamaeleon puffer) contains saxitoxin, making it hazardous for consumption.

For shellfish, the biotoxin affects the nervous system and paralyzes the muscles when consumed by humans. Hence, the name “paralytic” shellfish poison. Some symptoms of this are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, tingling sensation in the lips and extremities, and numbness. In higher levels, the poison can cause severe illnesses and death. There are no cure or antidote to this shellfish poisoning. The only treatment or procedure for this is to use life support systems (mechanical respirator and oxygen) until the toxin passes from the victim’s system.

Philippine Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources

According to the BFAR, their latest laboratory results shows that shellfishes collected from the coastal waters “are still positive for paralytic shellfish poison that is beyond the regulatory limit.” Fish, squids, shrimps, and crabs are safe for human consumption provided that they are fresh and washed thoroughly, and internal organs such as gills and intestines are removed before cooking.

The 12 coastal areas affected by the paralytic shellfish poisoning include Honda and Puerto Princesa Bays in Puerto Princesa City, and coastal waters of Inner Malampaya Sound, Taytay in Palawan; Sorsogon Bay in Sorsogon; coastal waters Dauis and Tagbilaran City in Bohol; Tambobo Bay in Siaton, Negros Oriental; coastal waters of Daram Island, Zumarraga, and Cambatutay in Western Samar; coastal waters of Calubian, Leyte, Carigara Bay, and Cancabato Bay, Tacloban City in Leyte; coastal waters of Biliran Islands; coastal waters of Guiuan and Matarimao Bay in Eastern Samar; Balite Bay in Mati City, Davao Oriental; Lianga Bay and coastal waters of Hinatuan in Surigao del Sur; and Dumanquillas Bay in Zamboanga del Sur.

All types of shellfish and alamang gathered from these areas are not safe for human consumption,” the BFAR Agency said.

Moreover, San Pedro Bay in Western Samar is now positive for red tide toxin. Meanwhile, coastal waters of Milagros in Masbate are now free of the toxic red tides.

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