Some Vashon beaches closed to shellfish harvesting

Quartermaster Harbor beaches have been closed to recreational shellfish harvest because diarrhetic shellfish poison (DSP) has been found at unsafe levels.

Last week, Public Health – Seattle & King County posted advisory signs at beaches along Quartermaster, warning people not to collect shellfish, including clams, oysters, mussels, geoducks and scallops.

DSP is an emerging health threat for Washington, public health officials say, and anyone who eats DSP-contaminated shellfish is at risk for illness.  Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhea, with diarrhea being the most commonly reported symptom. Symptoms may appear within minutes of eating contaminated shellfish or may take several hours.

Naturally occurring algae produces the toxin, which is not destroyed by cooking or freezing. Additionally, people cannot determine if DSP toxin is present; it can only be detected by laboratory testing.

Because beaches can be closed because of rising levels of DSP at any time, harvesters are advised to call the Department of Health Biotoxin Hotline at 1-800-562-5632 or visit the Biotoxin Website before harvesting shellfish anywhere in Puget Sound.

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