Health officials have labelled an outbreak of paralytic
shellfish poisoning as the worst seen in the Bay of Plenty.
Since last Wednesday, 20 people have been poisoned by eating
shellfish collected from the Bay of Plenty shoreline.
Ten were admitted for hospital care after suffering symptoms
ranging from tingling around the mouth to difficulty walking.
Four people remain in hospital.
The levels of toxins being reported from routine shellfish
sampling, and the number and severity of cases underline that
collecting shellfish from the affected area is a significant
The health warning that was issued in August remains in
Medical officer of health Dr Neil de Wet said people needed
to heed the warning and ensure friends and visitors to the
area were made aware of the risk.
"Tell your family, whanau, friends and tourists that
collecting shellfish is not safe at present. If you see
someone collecting shellfish remind them - we don't want
anyone else in hospital this holiday."
Dr de Wet strongly advised against the collection of
shellfish from Tairua on the east coast of the Coromandel
Peninsula, south to Waihi Beach and along the Bay of Plenty
coast to Whakatane Heads in the Eastern Bay of Plenty.
The warning includes Tairua Harbour as well as Tauranga
Harbour, Maketu and Waihi estuaries, Matakana and Motiti
Islands, and all other inshore islands along this coastline.
The health warning applies to all bi-valve shellfish
including mussels, pipi, tuatua, cockles, oysters, scallops
as well as cat's eyes and kina (sea urchin). Shellfish in the
affected area should not be taken or consumed. Paua, crayfish
and crabs can still be taken but as always, the gut should be
removed before cooking.
Consumption of shellfish affected by the paralytic shellfish
toxin can cause numbness and tingling around the mouth, face
or extremities; difficulty swallowing or breathing;
dizziness; double vision; and in severe cases, paralysis and
respiratory failure. These symptoms usually occur within 12
hours of a person consuming affected shellfish. Anyone
suffering illness after eating shellfish should seek urgent
For up to date information on health warnings in the Bay of
Plenty please visit www.ttophs.govt.nz and click
on health warnings or call 0800 221 555 and select option 7
to speak to the on call health protection officer.
- Bay of Plenty Times