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Toxin closes coast to mussel, clam harvesting.

Byline: The Register-Guard

The state Department of Agriculture on Monday announced the closure of the entire Oregon Coast to recreational mussel and clam harvesting, from the mouth of the Columbia River to the California border, because of elevated levels of paralytic shellfish poisoning, or PSP, toxins.

Most of the north and central coast already had been closed to mussel harvesting. Razor clam harvesting has been closed by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife since July 15 as part of its annual summer conservation closure. The conservation closure ends Oct. 1. However, clamming will remain prohibited until PSP levels fall within the safe range.

Coastal scallops are not affected by the closure when only the adductor muscle is eaten. The consumption of whole, recreationally harvested scallops is not recommended. Crab are not affected by the detected level of toxin and are safe to eat, the Agriculture Department said.

Shellfish contaminated with PSP toxins can cause minor to severe illness or even death. The symptoms usually begin with tingling of the mouth and tongue.

Severe poisoning can result in dizziness, numbness and tingling in the arms and legs, paralysis of the arms and legs, and paralysis of the muscles used for breathing.

Shellfish toxins are produced by algae and usually originate in the ocean.

Agriculture department officials said they will continue to test for shellfish toxins weekly as tides permit. Reopening of an area requires two consecutive tests in the safe range.

For more information, people can call the agriculture department's shellfish safety information hot line at 800-448-2474 or the Food Safety Division at 503-986-4720, or visit the state's shellfish closures Web page at
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Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Sep 22, 2009
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