Story last updated at 4/18/2012 - 11:11 am
JUNEAU - Three suspected cases of paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) have been reported to the Alaska Section of Epidemiology. All three were the result of eating shellfish harvested in the Juneau area over Easter weekend.
The 3 PSP cases were the result of the consumption of razor clams harvested from Admiralty Island and butter clams harvested from either Lincoln Island or Ralston Island over Easter weekend. All suspected victims are recovering.
Early signs of PSP often include tingling of the lips and tongue. Symptoms may progress to tingling of fingers and toes, then loss of control of arms and legs, followed by difficulty breathing. Death can result in as little as two hours.
All locally harvested shellfish - including clams, mussels, oysters, geoducks and scallops - can contain PSP. Crabmeat is not known to contain the PSP toxin, but crab guts can contain unsafe levels of toxin and should be discarded. There is no way to tell if a beach is safe for harvesting by visual observation. Toxins can be present in large amounts even if the water appears clear. The toxin can remain in shellfish long after the algae bloom is over. PSP cannot be cooked, cleaned or frozen out of shellfish. Commercially grown shellfish is tested and considered safe.
Paralytic shellfish poisoning is considered a public health emergency. Suspected cases must be reported immediately to the Section of Epidemiology by health care providers at 269-8000 during work hours or (800) 478-0084 after hours.