Suspected case of paralytic shellfish poisoning, China

CHINA : Hong Kong (HKSAR) – The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health received notification today (October 10) of a suspected case of paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) affecting a 33-year-old woman.

The patient presented with dizziness, numbness of mouth, hands and feet as well as headache, nausea and abdominal pain about 45 minutes after consuming sea urchin at home on October 3. She attended the Accident and Emergency Department of North District Hospital on the same day and was subsequently admitted. She was discharged on October 4.

She has been in a stable condition all along.

Initial enquiries revealed that the frozen sea urchin was purchased from a food store in Fanling. Investigations by the CHP and the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department are continuing.

Members of the public should seek medical advice immediately if they develop shellfish poisoning symptoms and save any leftovers for investigation and laboratory testing.

A spokesman for CHP said that PSP toxin was a natural toxin sometimes found in bi-valve shellfish.

It is heat-stable and cannot be destroyed through cooking.

He appealed to people to observe the following measures:

* Buy shellfish from reliable and licensed seafood shops;
* Remove the viscera, gonads and roe before cooking and discard any cooking liquid before consumption;
* Eat a smaller amount of shellfish in any one meal;
* When symptoms occur after consuming shellfish, seek medical advice immediately.

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