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Probable case of paralytic shellfish poisoning reported at Kenai Peninsula's Clam Gulch

Laurel Andrews

A probable case of paralytic shellfish poisoning was reported Sunday from clams harvested at Kenai Peninsula's Clam Gulch, the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services said Monday.

A Kenai resident had harvested razor and possibly butter clams around noon on Sunday, and ate the clams later that day, DHSS spokesman Greg Wilkinson said.

The person became ill overnight, said state epidemiologist Louisa Castrodale, and exhibited "classic" paralytic shellfish poisoning symptoms -- a floating sensation, tingling around the mouth, vomiting, headache and shortness of breath.

The resident did not seek medical care, so no urine analysis was taken to confirm that the case was paralytic shellfish poisoning. There was no food left over to test for the toxins, Castrodale said.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game was planning to dig clams in the Clam Gulch area this week and test them for the poison, Castrodale said. Results are expected by early next week, she said.

Sunday's report was the first probable case of paralytic shellfish poisoning this season, Castrodale said.

Clam Gulch is on the Kenai Peninsula, between Soldotna and Homer. The possibly toxic clams were harvested "around 1.5 miles down the beach, near the big tower," a DHSS press release states.

Clam Gulch is famous for the multitudes of razor clams harvested annually from the beaches adjacent to the state recreation area, according to the Alaska Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation .

Paralytic shellfish poison can be present in all locally harvested shellfish can contain the poison, including clams, mussels, oysters, geoducks and scallops, the release states. Early warning signs of paralytic shellfish poisoning include a tingling of the lips and tongue. The toxins can cause fatalities in as little as two hours, the release states.

Reach Laurel Andrews at laurel@alaskadispatch.com


Laurel Andrews
laurel@alaskadispatch.com