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Tas warned over poisonous shellfish

AAP logoAAP 14/08/2016

Health authorities are warning people not to eat wild shellfish from the east coast of Tasmania due to the risk of potentially fatal paralytic poisoning.

Blooms of toxin-producing algae off the east coast, including in waters around Hobart, mean there are high levels of toxins in the shellfish.

"Shellfish feed on algae and concentrate the toxin - this makes them dangerous to eat and may cause serious and even fatal illness," the state's acting director of public health, Dr Mark Veitch, said in a statement on Sunday.

"The large scale of this algal bloom and the high levels of toxin in tested shellfish mean the risk of shellfish poisoning from eating shellfish collected from the wild is very real."

Two types of shellfish toxin have been detected: one causes paralysis while the other causes diarrhoea.

People are being warned off wild oysters, mussels, clams, pipis and scallops from anywhere along the east coast.

Cooking the shellfish does not destroy the toxins.

Many commercial harvesting sites have been closed due to the algal blooms.

Three people were poisoned in Tasmania by toxic mussels in October 2015, with two admitted to hospital.

Symptoms of paralytic shellfish poisoning included tingling and pins and needles around the mouth and face, hands, and feet.

People may also experience unsteadiness and blurred vision; or have difficulty swallowing, talking and breathing.

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