Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning: The Alaska Problem

Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning: The Alaska Problem

Alaska's Marine Resources 8(2)

Ray RaLonde

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Written by experts at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and the University of Washington, and medical doctors, this publication is an excellent summary of the PSP problem in Alaska. PSP poisoning is caused by neurologically damaging saxitoxins that are byproducts of microscopic algae called dinoflagellates. People who eat shellfish that have been feeding on toxic dinoflagellates can suffer from numbness, paralysis, disorientation, and death. Testing programs in Alaska ensure that shellfish reaching the retail food market are safe, but the widespread indifference of recreational and subsistence harvesters to PSP warnings results in about seven individual cases of poisoning per year in Alaska. Alaska Marine Resources 8(2).

For more information about PSP, please contact your local Marine Advisory Program agent.

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