Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning in Alaska

November 18, 2011, 1:15 am

Steamed Cockles


Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning – Southeast Alaska, May-June 2011. MMWR 2011 Nov 18;60:1554-1556.

Full Text 

In this report, the CDC describes 21 cases of paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) occurring in Southeast Alaska in the months of May and June of this year. All victims had consumed noncommercial bivalve mollusks: cockles, mussels, and clams. Symptoms included facial paresthesias, bulbar palsy, and ataxia. Onset was generally within one hour of ingestion. Although PSP can be fatal, there were no deaths in this series. One patient required intubation.

PSP is caused by saxitoxin, a heat-stable neurotoxin that blocks sodium channels and impairs conduction in excitable nerve, muscle, and myocardial cells.

This report notes that of the 21 cases of PSP detected, 17 were not reported to the Alaska health authorities.

This MMWR report brought to mind Sinead O’Connor’s haunting version of the classic Irish song “Molly Malone”:

Related post:

Saxitoxin invades Seattle!


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