Public Health Warning - MARINE BIOTOXIN ALERT – NORTHLAND WEST COAST  | Northland DHB

Public Health Warning - MARINE BIOTOXIN ALERT – NORTHLAND WEST COAST 

PUBLIC HEALTH WARNING – MARINE BIOTOXIN ALERT – NORTHLAND WEST COAST 

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is about to issue a public health warning advising the public not to collect or consume shellfish on the Northland west coast from Waipapakauri on 90 Mile Beach, south to Pouto Point on the northern head of the Kaipara Harbour. This includes the Herekino, Whangape and Hokianga Harbours. Paralytic shellfish toxins have been detected at levels above the safe limit set by MPI.   Warning signs will be posted in the coming days.   

Note that cooking or freezing the shellfish does not remove the toxin. 

Routine tests on shellfish samples taken from these regions have shown levels of Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) toxins above the safe limit of 0.8 mg/kg set by MPI. Anyone eating shellfish from this area is potentially at risk of illness.

  • Mussels, oysters, tuatua, pipi, toheroa, cockles, scallops, catseyes, kina (sea urchin) and all other bivalve shellfish should not be eaten.
  • Paua, crab and crayfish may still be eaten if the gut has been completely removed prior to cooking, as toxins accumulate in the gut.  If the gut is not removed, its contents could contaminate the meat during the cooking process. 

Symptoms typically appear between 10 minutes and 3 hours after ingestion and may include:

  • numbness and a tingling (prickly feeling) around the mouth, face, and extremities (hands and feet)
  • difficulty swallowing or breathing
  • dizziness
  • headache
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhoea
  • paralysis and respiratory failure and in severe cases, death.

Members of the public with any queries about shellfish safety should call:

  • Whangarei Hospital on 09 4304 100 and ask to speak with the on-call Health Protection Officer.

If there is any leftover shellfish after consumption, this can be sent for further analyses.

Another warning remains in place for the west coast of the North Island – from South Head (Manukau Harbour entrance) to Tirua Point (south of Kawhia). Paralytic shellfish toxins are still at levels above the safe limit set by MPI.

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