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Public Health News

Posted on: December 8, 2020

Shellfish Biotoxin Declines, Some Closures Remain

December 8, 2020
For Immediate Release
Contact: Michael Dawson, Water Quality Manager
Jefferson County Public Health
360-385-9444 ext. 301

Port Townsend – Recent testing from the Department of Health (DOH) shows continued declines in Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) levels in shellfish, and many waterbodies in Jefferson County have had closures modified. Discovery Bay, Port Townsend Bay, Admiralty Inlet, Fort Worden State Park, and Fort Flagler State Park went from closed to all shellfish species to only restricting the harvest of butter and varnish clams, because PSP toxins persist in these clam species for much longer and they are unsafe to consume. Mystery Bay remains closed to all species. Public access points are posted with the appropriate warning signs and the DOH Shellfish Safety Map shows up-to-date information for recreational shellfish harvesting at doh.wa.gov/ShellfishSafety.

 Marine biotoxins are not destroyed by cooking or freezing. People can become ill from eating shellfish contaminated with the naturally occurring marine algae containing toxins harmful to humans. Symptoms of PSP can appear within minutes or hours and usually begins with tingling lips and tongue, moving to the hands and feet, followed by difficulty breathing, and potentially death. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should contact a health care provider immediately. For extreme reactions call 911.

 Additional to biotoxin closures, please refer to the Washington State Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) for shellfish harvesting seasons at wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfishing-regulations or the Shellfish Rule Change Hotline 1-866-880-5431.


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Jefferson County Public Health
Always Working for a Safer and Healthier Community

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