Shellfish toxin warning
It’s not a good time to go hunting for shellfish on the North Island’s west coast.
A warning about shellfish with paralytic toxins now stretches from Manukau Harbour down the coast to Oakura, southwest of New Plymouth.
Unsafe levels of paralytic toxins - which can cause anything from numbness to respiratory failure - have been detected in shellfish in the area, the Ministry for Primary Industries warning said.
Many types of shellfish are affected - including mussels, kina, and pa¯ua.
Paralytic shellfish toxins aren’t killed by cooking the shellfish, an MPI statement said.
The warning affects mussels, oysters, tuatua, pipi, toheroa, cockles, scallops, catseyes, kina (sea urchin) and all other bivalve shellfish.
But, if the gut is completely removed before cooking, it is still safe to eat pa¯ua, crab and crayfish.
If they are cooked with the gut in, the meat can be contaminated.
The symptoms of paralytic shellfish poisoning include numbness and tingling around the mouth, face, hands, and feet, MPI said.
They can also include difficulty swallowing or breathing, nausea, or paralysis and respiratory failure.
Symptoms generally appear between 10 minutes and three hours after the shellfish have been eaten.
There will be ongoing testing of shellfish, MPI said, and updates on any changes.
If someone gets sick after eating shellfish from the area covered by the warning, they should seek medical attention immediately. They should also advise the nearest public health unit and keep any leftover shellfish for testing.