Amnesic shellfish poisoning

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Amnesic shellfish poisoning is an illness caused by poisoning with a particular toxin called domoic acid.[1]

At times, some diatoms produce domoic acid in ocean water. Shellfish accumulate this poison, and when they are eaten by people, the people get poisoned. The symptoms may be very severe: they include permanent memory loss, brain damage, and vomiting.[2][3][4][5]

This disease was discovered in 1987 in eastern Canada when many people got poisoned after eating shellfish in a restaurant. Several people died of this disease then.

Birds can get this disease too when they eat poisoned shellfish. Such birds lose the coordination ability, and may crash into car and house windows.[6]

Scientists found that the incidents of this disease occur more frequently in the recent years.

In the United States it is illegal to catch and sell shellfish without a license. Caught shellfish have to be frequently tested. When this toxin is found in the shellfish, government bans fishing and selling it in the area.

In the UK, all shellfish caught for restaurants or sale to the public are put in clean water for at least two days before being brought to market. This is the standard way to protect from poisoning.[7]

References[change | change source]

  1. Clark R.F. et al 1999. "A review of selected seafood poisonings". Undersea Hyperbaric Medicine. 26 (3): 175–184. PMID 10485519. Archived from the original on 2011-08-11. Retrieved 2016-09-05.
  2. Bates S.S. & Trainer V.L. 2006. The ecology of harmful diatoms. Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag. pp. 81–93. doi:10.1007/978-3-540-32210-8_7. ISBN 978-3-540-74009-4.
  3. Bejarano A.C. et al 2008. "Production and toxicity of the marine biotoxin domoic acid and its effects on wildlife: a review" (PDF). Human and Ecological Risk Assessment. 14 (3): 544–567. doi:10.1080/10807030802074220. Archived from the original (pdf) on 2016-06-29. Retrieved 2016-09-05.
  4. Lefebvre K.A. & Robertson A. 2010. "Domoic acid and human exposure risks: a review". Toxicon. 56 (2): 218–230. doi:10.1016/j.toxicon.2009.05.034. PMID 19505488.
  5. Bargu S; Smith E. & Ozhan K. 2011. "Toxic diatom Pseudo-nitzschia and its primary consumers (vectors)". In Seckbach J. & Kociolek P. The Diatom World. Springer. pp. 493–512. ISBN 978-9400713260.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  6. This is not the main cause of bird-window crashes. In the autumn, birds eating ripe fruit often get drunk because some of the sugar in the fruit has turned into alcohol.
  7. Silver, Mary Wilcox 2006. Protecting ourselves from shellfish poisoning. American Scientist, 94 (4): 316–325.