3/6/03 Toxin causes shellfish ban

Date: 1/6/2003

A potentially deadly toxin has:forced the closure of New Zealand’s entire Hawkes Bay coast to shellfish gathering. Similar bans are in place in the Bay of Islands, on the West Coast of the South Island and along the Wanganui coastline. It is the second time since April that a ban has been placed on Bay of Islands shellfish. The ban in Hawkes Bay extends from Whareongaonga, about 20km north of Mahia, to Cape Ttu-nagain in southern Hawkes Bay, after shellfish taken from Waimarama Beach were found to contain more than seven times the Health Ministry’s safe limit for the toxin. A health protection officer said Hawkes Bay kina, mussels, toheroa, pipi, tuatua, oysters and cockles should not be eaten. Paua, crab and crayfish could be eaten if the gut was removed before cooking. Fish were unaffected. Symptoms of poisoning could occur within 12 hours and included numbness and tingling around the mouth, face and extremities; difficulty swallowing or breathing; headache, dizzinessand double vision.

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