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Paralytic Shellfish Poison Causes Closure of Pierce County Beaches

August 13, 2010

Tacoma-Pierce County WA ? Paralytic Shellfish Poison (PSP) has been detected at levels of concern in shellfish samples collected from Day Island and Penrose Point in Pierce County. As a result, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) has closed Carr Inlet and the eastern shoreline of Pierce County from King County down into Thurston County to the recreational harvest of shellfish.

The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department is posting advisory signs at: Dash Point County Park, Brown's Point Park, Owens Beach, Point Defiance boathouse, Narrows Park, Titlow Beach, Kopachuck State Park, Purdy Sandspit, Penrose Point State Park, Saltars Point, and Solo Point warning people to not collect shellfish from these areas. The closure includes clams, oysters, mussels, scallops and other species of mollusks. Crabs and shrimp are not included in the closure.

Colvos Passage continues to be closed to the recreational harvest of butter clams only. A sign remains in place at Sunrise Beach County Park. Commercial beaches are sampled separately and commercial products should be safe to eat.

PSP poisoning can be life-threatening and is caused by eating shellfish containing a potent neurotoxin. A naturally occurring marine organism produces the toxin. The toxin is not destroyed by cooking or freezing.

A person cannot determine if PSP toxin is present by visual inspection of the water or shellfish. For this reason, the term "red tide" is misleading and inaccurate. PSP can only be detected by laboratory testing. Also, conditions are changing rapidly and there are likely to be more areas closed in the very near future. Therefore, recreational shellfish harvesters are advised to call the DOH Biotoxin Hotline at 1-800-562-5632 or access the Biotoxin Website at before harvesting shellfish anywhere in Puget Sound.

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