Consumers are warned to steer clear of shellfish, some crustacean parts, or small fish that have been sport-harvested offshore of the Channel Islands, Southern California, because they might contain elevated levels of domoic acid - a toxin. The Channel Islands of California consist of eight islands along the Santa Barbara Channel, five of them - San Miguel, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz, Anacapa, and Santa Barbara - are part of the Channel Islands National Park. The other three are called Santa Catalina, San Nicolas, and San Clemente.
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced that levels of domoic acid that could be harmful to human health have been identified in mussels, scallops, lobster and crab viscera (entrails, guts), and clams.
CDPH stresses that commercially sold mussels, oysters, scallops or clams do not form part of this warning. According to California law, only certified commercial shellfish harvesters or dealers are allowed to sell these foods - they are frequently tested for quality.
So far no cases of poisoning by people consuming these products have been reported, the CDPH informs.
Signs and symptoms of domoic acid poisoning can emerge from 30 minutes to 24 hours after consuming the tainted seafood.
Typical mild symptoms, which usually clear up within a few days, may include:
- breathing difficulties
- heart instability
- excessive bronchial secretions
- serious short term memory problems (can become permanent)
- complications can result in death
Domoic acid can build up in marine animals, such as shellfish, sardines, anchovies that feed on phytoplankton. Phytoplankton can produce this toxin.
In humans, domoic acid acts as a neurotoxin.
Source: California Department of Public Health
Written by Christian Nordqvist