DFO issues shellfish alert for Port Hardy

PORT HARDY-Clams, products offered through Buy, sell, swap Facebook page may pose risk of paralytic shellfish poisoning.

PORT HARDY—Customers of a private seller offering shellfish through a social networking site in Port Hardy are urged to discard the the product due to risk of paralytic shellfish poisoning and/or gastrointestinal disease, Fisheries and Oceans Canada cautioned this week.

DFO said various shellfish products may have been offered by the private distributor in Port Hardy, through a Port Hardy Buy and Sell group page on Facebook.

Advertised products for sale include fresh whole butter clams and possibly other species in 40 Kg portions.

The products were for sale online, but may have also been distributed through other mechanisms, the DFO announcement said. There is no identifying packaging or product code on these items.

These products may have been distributed throughout the Port Hardy area. As of Friday DFO was not aware of the products being made available through retail locations or restaurants.

Anyone who may have purchased or been provided these products should not consume them, and discard them. Cooking will not destroy the toxins associated with paralytic shellfish poisoning.

The products were harvested from an area closed to shellfish harvesting, said DFO, and were not processed at a government-approved facility. All bivalve shellfish sold in B.C. must come from open shellfish harvesting areas and from sources that pass federal inspection.

This alert is the result of an ongoing investigation by the DFO. The British Columbia Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) is currently working with DFO, Health Canada, the BC Ministry of Health, and regional health authorities to ensure the products are removed from distribution, as well as to investigate any possible cases of illness. Currently there have been no illnesses linked to these products.

Anyone who has consumed these products and has become ill should report their illness to their local public health office and see a physician if symptoms persist or become severe. Call the 24-hour HealthLink BC Line at 8-1-1 for more information.

The symptoms of paralytic shellfish poisoning include: tingling; numbness, spreading from lips and mouth to face, neck and extremities; dizziness; arm and leg weakness; paralysis; respiratory failure; and possibly death. Symptoms start quickly, within 30 minutes to 3 hours. The progression and intensity of the symptoms will vary.

Bivalves harvested from sanitary closures can cause gastrointestinal illness, Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning (ASP) and Diarrhetic Shellfish Poisoning (DSP), among other viral and bacterial risks such as Norovirus and Hepatitis A. Symptoms of ASP include severe nausea, vomiting and diarrhea within six hours, muscle weakness, disorientation, memory loss, abdominal pain, and dizziness. DSP symptoms include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and cramps.

If you have any information, please contact the Port Hardy DFO office at 250-949-6422, or the 24 hour toll free Observe, Record and Report (ORR) line at 1-800-465-4336.

Detailed bivalve shellfish closure information and maps are available at local DFO offices and at the DFO website: www.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/psp.