Red tide toxin in shellfish still at dangerous level

Borneo Post, 7 June 2013

KOTA KINABALU: The Fisheries Department here yesterday warned that the level of red tide toxin in shellfish samples it collected here was still high.

“The toxin level is still within 700 MU (Mouse Unit),” said the department’s director, Rayner Stuel Galid when contacted by the Borneo Post yesterday.

The lowest limit considered as the dangerous level for humans is 400 MU.

Hence, members of the public are still advised to abstain from consuming any type of shellfish or bivalves and these include oysters, mussels, cockles and any type of seafood with shells.

They are also advised to refrain from collecting shellfish and bivalves from the sea in Sabah with the intention of eating these or selling to the public as food.

Only the Fisheries Department can detect the presence of this toxin in shellfish in its specialized lab. Lay people will not be able to tell whether clams are toxic or not through sight, smell or taste.

The toxin in shellfish also cannot be washed away or rid off through any type of food preparation or cooking.

Symptoms of shellfish poisoning due to red tide include the tingling of the lips and tongue, depending on the severity of the poisoning.

The symptoms may progress to a sensation of ‘prickling of pins and needles’ and then loss of control of arms and legs, followed by difficulty in breathing.

Those experiencing the symptoms are advised to seek immediate medical treatment as delay may result in death.