Friday, June 26, 2015

BFAR issues poison alert
for shellfish from Dauis

TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol June 25 (PIA) --The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Central Office issues an alert for paralytic shellfish poison (PSP) following monitoring and water sampling done in the vicinity of Dauis town. 

In its Shellfish Advisory No. 9, dated June 24 and sent to Dauis town mayor Marietta Sumaylo, BFAR Director Atty. Asis G. Perez said in its red tide monitoring activities along with the local government unit, shellfish sample collected from the coastal waters of Dauis, Bohol are now positive for red tide toxin. 

The advisory came following reports that at least 9 patients diagnosed with the PSP have been confined and or discharged for Gov. Celestino Gallares Memorial Hospital and at least another private hospital in the city, when they experienced symptoms of poisoning.

PSP is classified as a serious illness caused by eating shellfish contaminated with dinoflagellate algae that produce harmful toxins. These usually happens when there is a sudden changes in temperatures especially from sweltering heat to sudden cold seasons. 

Observers have also supposed the pollution as a major factor in triggering the bloom of the dinoflagellate algae, which is a phenomenon usually called algal bloom which manifests in turning a portion of a body of water into red. 

However, separate sources said the water turning red is not always an indicator of PSP. 

Some of these dinoflagellate toxins are 1,000 times more potent than cyanide, that toxin levels contained in a single shellfish can sometimes be fatal to humans.

BFAR found that the toxins in the shell fish samples they collected in Dauis is 80-912 mouse units STX/eq per 100 grams of shellfish meat, BFAR's Perez said. 

A mouse unit [MU] is defined as the minimum amount needed to cause the death of an 18 to 22 g white mouse in 15 minutes, according to laboratory tests. 

It is said that bivalves mollusks and shellfish including clams, mussels, oysters and scallops can contain PSP toxins, themselves being bottom dwellers. Fish, especially reef-weed feeders can accumulate the toxins and are to be avaioded. 

In an early morning interview aired over a radio station in Bohol, BFAR Bohol officer in charge Leo Bongalos said early symptoms of PSP include tingling of the lips and tongue, which may begin within minutes of eating toxic shellfish or may take an hour or two to develop. 

Depending on the gravity of the ingestion of algal bloom contaminated shell meat, these symptoms could sometimes progress into tingling of fingers and toes and then the loss of muscle control in the arms and legs, followed by difficulty in breathing, according to medical experts. 

Already said to be fatal, some people who had it, experienced light-headedness or nauseas, and in worst cases, the chest and abdomen muscles become paralyzed. 

At high toxin exposures, death can occur in as little as 2 hours from paralysis of the breathing muscles. 

To avoid PSP, the public is advised to refrain from eating, gathering or harvesting, transporting and marketing shellfish from the coastal waters of Dauis until such time that the toxicity level of the shellfish has gone down or below the regulatory limit of 60 mouse units STX/eq per 100 grams of shellfish meat, Perez advised. 

As this has caused a stir in Bohol after an early morning broadcast, BRAF added that fish harvested from the said area is safe for human consumption. 

This is provided the fish are fresh, washed thoroughly 9in running tap water) and their internal organs such as gills and intestine are removed before cooking. 

For crabs too, BFAR Bohol advised that the gut and butter (alige) be removed before boiling, while the broth must be discarded and not ingested. (rac/PIA-7/Bohol)

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