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Health department lifts shellfish safety notification for Sonoma, Marin counties

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Sport-harvested whole scallops and all clams in Marin and Sonoma counties were cleared for consumption July 23, 2019 when the California Department of Public Health lifted a shellfish safety notification that was put in place due to dangerous level of toxins.

The California Department of Public Health on Tuesday lifted a shellfish safety notification in Sonoma and Marin counties.

The safety notification applied to sport-harvested whole scallops and all clams in the two counties. The safety notification went into effect in Marin County on June 21 and in Sonoma County on June 27.

The notifications were issued because of dangerous levels of naturally occurring paralytic shellfish poisoning toxins that can cause illness or death. Recent tests showed the toxins in the shellfish had decreased to safe or undetectable levels, the health department said. The annual mussel quarantine that started on May 1 remains in effect. It applies to all species of mussels harvested along the California coast and in bays and estuaries through at least Oct. 31.

The warnings do not apply to commercially sold clams, mussels, scallops or oysters from approved sources. State law permits only state-certified commercial shellfish harvesters or dealers to sell the shellfish, which are subject to frequent mandatory testing for toxins. The toxins affect the central nervous system and produce tingling around the mouth and fingertips within a few minutes or a few hours of eating the shellfish.

Loss of balance, lack of muscular coordination, slurred speech and difficulty swallowing typically follow. In severe poisoning, complete muscular paralysis and death from asphyxiation may occur.

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