Toxin Risk Closes Texas Waters To Shellfish Harvesting

GALVESTON, TX — The Texas Department of State Health Services has temporarily closed most Texas coastal waters to the harvesting of oysters, clams and mussels because of an algal bloom and the potential presence of toxins in some shellfish.

The affected area extends along the Texas coast from Galveston to Port Aransas. Commercial and recreational harvesters should not harvest oysters, clams or mussels from the closed areas.

The closures come after DSHS crews found elevated levels of the Dinophysis organism entering the Texas bays from offshore waters, indicating a bloom is occurring where Texas oysters are harvested. A bloom can occur when microscopic algae grow quickly in water, forming visible patches. DSHS officials say they know of no health issues associated with people being in water containing the algae.

The toxin produced by Dinophysis, okadaic acid, can accumulate rapidly in shellfish tissue and cause diarrheic shellfish poisoning, or DSP, in people who consume oysters, clams or mussels. DSP symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, nausea and cramping. DSP is not life threatening and does not generally cause long-term effects. DSHS is not aware of any illnesses associated with this bloom.

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