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.

seashellState 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.

seashellAlaska Sea Grant publications

Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning: The Alaska Problem
An excellent summary of the PSP problem

Common Bivalves of Alaska
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.

seashellLinks to other PSP sites

Alaska Division of Public Health

Information on PSP and recreational shellfish harvesting 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 [PDF]

Paralytic Shellfish Poison (PSP) information from the Washington State Department of Health

Marine Biotoxins on the West Coast and Alaska
Information about harmful algal blooms (HABs) on the U.S. West Coast.

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
This site from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution has pictures, impacts, maps and descriptions.