Health officials: avoid shellfish from Central Coast

- Seafood lovers beware- the California public health department has a warning about local shellfish.

The warning comes after a high level of a specific toxin was found in shellfish from California’s central coast. California public health officials are telling people to avoid eating any rock crabs from Half  Moon Bay and any bivalve shellfish and rock crabs caught in Monterey Bay. This is due to dangerous levels of domoic acid, a naturally-occurring toxin.

The crabs and shellfish are on the danger list for now. Health officials say the domoic acid level is ten times higher than normal.

Specifically, the warning says people should not eat any rock crabs from Half Moon Bay. Also, people should not eat any crabs or bi-valve shellfish caught by recreational fishermen in Monterey Bay. That includes all mussels, clams, oysters and scallops, unless they were caught commercially.

Mild domoic acid poisoning can cause flu-like symptoms. But higher levels of the toxin can cause seizures, heart problems, or even death.

The warning doesn't apply to any commercially sold clams, mussels, scallops or oysters. High levels of domoic acid shut down the Dungeness crab season until May of this year.

The toxin is related to a "bloom" of a particular sea plant. The Department of Fish and Wildlife will collect rock crab samples from the central coast until the toxin levels have gone down. So far no illnesses have been reported.

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