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State expands recreational shellfish warning

The California Department of Public Health’s latest warning of poisons found in recreationally harvested bivalve shellfish was issued to Santa Cruz County on Friday, according to county public health officials.

The state does not want consumers to eat mussels, clams or whole scallops that have been harvested recreationally from the area because paralytic shellfish poisoning toxins can cause illness or death, county officials said.

Health advisories due to the toxins are also in place for the entirety of the counties included inside the San Francisco Bay, Santa Cruz County health officials said.

County health experts said the warning does not apply to commercially sold clams, mussels, scallops or oysters from sources that have been approved. State law permits only certified harvesters or dealers to sell these products and they are regularly subjected to mandatory toxin testing.

Health officials said that cooking does not destroy the toxin. Early symptoms of paralytic shellfish poisoning include tingling of the lips and tongue, which could occur minutes after eating the shellfish. Those symptoms can be followed by a loss of balance, lack of muscular coordination, slurred speech or difficulty swallowing.

Serious cases can result in asphyxiation.

For up-to-date information on shellfish advisories from the state, people can call the state agency’s toll-free Shellfish Information Line at (800) 553-4133.

Further information can be found at

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