MEDIA RELEASES

Public Health Warning: Marine Biotoxin in Shellfish - Kaipara

Northland District Health Board Health Protection Unit advises the public NOT to collect or eat shellfish from the Kaipara Harbour and the coastline north to Maunganui Bluff. Shellfish at the Kaipara Harbour entrance have shown the presence of Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) toxins above the regulatory level.

Areas to the south of the Kaipara Harbour also currently show toxin levels above regulatory levels, and further monitoring may extend the warning area northwards. 

Shellfish including kina, mussels, pipis, tuatua, toheroa, oysters, cockles and scallops in the affected areas should not be eaten. 

 “Anyone eating these toxic shellfish is potentially at risk of illness” said Dr Clair Mills, Medical Officer of Health. “Cooking shellfish does not remove the toxin.”

Symptoms of PSP usually occur within 12 hours after eating shellfish containing the toxins: 

  • Numbness and tingling around the mouth, face or extremities. 
  • Difficulties in swallowing or breathing. 
  • Dizziness, double vision. 
  • In severe cases, paralysis and respiratory failure.

If anybody experiences these symptoms after eating shellfish, the first action is to call 111 to get medical help.

Northland DHB Public Health Unit will continue to monitor the situation and advise of any changes.


ENDS

For more information call:
Whangarei Hospital 09 4304100 and request the Health Protection Officer on call is paged, or call Elizabeth Watts, Shellfish Coordinator for Northland on 09 3404101 ext 7852.

Further information is available by visiting the following website: Food Smart website: http://www.foodsmart.govt.nz/food-safety/hunting-collecting-fishing/seafood-gatherers/

Dr Clair Mills
MEDICAL OFFICER OF HEALTH