Paralytic Shellfish Toxins in Butter Clam Tissues

Paralytic Shellfish Toxins in Butter Clam Tissues

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Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) is a persistent problem that affects Alaska subsistence and recreational shellfish harvesting. PSP is caused by consumption of shellfish that have accumulated saxitoxins (STXs), potent neurotoxins produced by the marine dinoflagellate Alexandrium. STXs disrupt normal nerve function and can result in respiratory paralysis.

Bivalve shellfish species differ in how they process the STXs, and STXs can concentrate in different shellfish tissues. This knowledge has led to numerous inquiries by shellfish harvesters regarding how shellfish cleaning methods might affect the amount of STXs consumed. Accordingly, this document focuses on one of the most commonly sought-after subsistence bivalves, butter clams.

In response to harvester-specific questions, this study addressed the difference in toxicity between whole and cleaned butter clams. We looked at the distribution of STXs in butter clam tissues on a seasonal basis and evaluated cleaning methods used by harvesters.

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