Submitted by Grays Harbor County Public Health
Paralytic Shellfish Poison (PSP), formerly known as “red tide,” has now been detected at concentrations above the closure level in shellfish samples collected from Westport. As a result, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) has closed all of Grays Harbor to the recreational harvest of shellfish.
The closure area boundary is inside Grays Harbor only and does not affect ocean beaches. Commercial beaches are sampled separately, and commercial products should be safe to eat.
The closure includes clams, oysters, mussels, scallops and other species of mollusks. Crabs are not included in the closure. Continued sampling will determine when closures will be lifted or expanded.
PSP poisoning can be life-threatening and is caused by eating shellfish containing a potent toxin. A naturally occurring organism produces the toxin. The toxin is not destroyed by cooking or freezing. Early symptoms of PSP can set in within 30 minutes of shellfish consumption and may include numbness and tingling around the lips/tongue; vomiting; diarrhea and abdominal pain; numbness in arms/legs; muscular paralysis or coordination loss; dizziness and incoherence; headache; rapid pulse; and/or respiratory distress. If you experience any of these symptoms after eating shellfish, have someone take you to the Emergency Room immediately or call 911 for assistance.
A person cannot determine if the toxin is present by visual inspection. PSP can only be detected by laboratory testing. Therefore, recreational shellfish harvesters are advised to call the DOH Biotoxin Hotline at 1-800-562-5632 or access the Shellfish Safety website before harvesting shellfish anywhere in Grays Harbor. Before harvesting, also remember to check harvest seasons and licensing requirements. Contact the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife for information about licensing and fishing regulations.