October 5, 1999
Red Tide Toxins Force Closure of
a Portion of Laguna Madre to Shellfish Harvesting
PORT MANSFIELD, TX (SafetyAlerts)
- The Texas Department of Health (TDH) is closing the lower portion of Laguna Madre from
Port Mansfield south to the Rio Grande to the taking of oysters, clams and mussels due to
the presence of the algae Gymnodinium breve. The area includes South Bay.
The algae causes red tide and can release toxins
that can accumulate in the tissue of oysters, clams and mussels. Consumption of these
contaminated shellfish can cause neurotoxic shellfish poisoning, or NSP, in humans.
Cooking does not remove the toxins.
Though NSP is not known to be fatal to humans,
symptoms include nausea, dizziness, dilated pupils, tingling of the extremities and
reversal of hot and cold sensations. Persons in the affected areas could experience
respiratory, eye, nose and throat irritations caused by airborne particles and toxins
contained in the ocean spray.
Other seafood such as shrimp, crabs and fish do
not accumulate the toxins and are safe to eat. Oysters, clams and mussels legally
available in markets and restaurants also should be safe.
TDH will continue to monitor algae levels and will
test samples of oysters, clams and mussels before determining when the bay can be reopened
This algae can cause fish kills, and health
officials say fish that are found dead or dying should not be eaten.
Laguna Madre is located between Padre Island and
the Texas mainland.
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