Sabah shellfish still toxic

KOTA KINABALU - It is still not advisable to consume shellfish because the level of red tide toxins recorded in various parts of the seas in Sabah continues to be high.

Sabah Fisheries Department director Rayner Stuel Galid said the toxic level was still within 700 mouse units (a measure of toxicity which can kill one mouse), which is a relatively dangerous level for humans.

"Food poisoning and even death can result from consuming red tide poisoned shellfish," he said, adding that the lowest mouse unit considered safe for humans was below 400.

"Traders are also reminded to cooperate with authorities by not selling the shellfish as they could risk the lives of people.

"Only the Fisheries Department can detect the presence of toxins in all types of shellfish in our specialised lab and not by mere sight or smell."

He added that the toxins in shellfish could not be washed away even by cooking or repeated cleaning.

Symptoms of the deadly algae bloom, commonly known as the red tide phenomenon, include tingling of the lips and tongue, depending on the severity of the poisoning.

Symptoms may progress to a tingling sensation followed by loss of control in a person's arms and legs and later difficulty in breathing.

Those with such symptoms are advised to seek immediate medical attention as a delay could result in death.

The deadly red algae bloom was detected in November last year and is expected to taper off by the end of this month.

In March, higher levels of red tide toxins were detected in clam samples obtained from Kuala Penyu and areas off Kota Kinabalu City, Sipitang and Tuaran.

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