Information and publications on paralytic shellfish poisoning
Paralytic shellfish poisoning is caused by neurologically damaging saxitoxins that are produced by some species of microscopic algae called dinoflagellates. People who eat shellfish that have been feeding on toxic dinoflagellates can suffer from numbness, paralysis, disorientation, and death.
The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation testing program ensures that shellfish reaching the retail food market are safe. But no testing program exists for recreational or subsistence harvests.
Anyone who develops PSP symptoms after consuming shellfish or crab viscera should seek prompt medical care.
State of Alaska publications
Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning Fact Sheet [PDF]
An Alaska Division of Public Health fact sheet explaining what PSP is, how it is transmitted, what the symptoms are, and other important information.
Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning in Juneau, Kodiak, and Haines, June 2010 [PDF; 41 KB]
A State of Alaska Epidemiology Bulletin about June 2010 cases of PSP, dated June 23, 2010.
Alaska Sea Grant publications
Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning:
The Alaska Problem
An excellent summary of the PSP problem
Common Bivalves of
An 11-inch × 17-inch, two-sided poster that will help you identify Alaska's common cockles, clams, and mussels—and find out if they can kill you. Available both in print and as a PDF file.
First aid for victims of paralytic shellfish poisoning
This page briefly discusses emergency treatment for PSP victims. The most important thing you can do for a PSP victim is to get him or her to a medical facility, fast.
Links to other PSP sites
PSP information from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation
Useful information and current warnings about PSP in Alaska.
PSP information from the Alaska DEC Food Safety and Sanitation Program
Information on PSP monitoring programs and shellfish identification.
Marine Biotoxins on the West Coast and Alaska
If you want to know about harmful algal blooms (HABs) on the U.S. West Coast, this is the place to start.
Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning
Here's one of the best summaries explaining PSP, including the economic effects suffered when outbreaks occur.
What Are Harmful Algal Blooms?
Harmful algal blooms are associated with more than PSP. This site gives you the big picture.
The Harmful Algae page
Pictures, impacts, descriptions, maps—this site from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution has it all when it comes to basic information about harmful algae.