UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Toxicology

Title: Shellfish Poisoning

Keywords: amnestic, neurotoxic, paralytic, shellfish (PubMed Search)

Posted: 9/30/2010 by Fermin Barrueto, MD
Click here to contact Fermin Barrueto, MD

Although we may not be able to eat as much shellfish after the oil spill, there are still some left that can cause some interesting toxicity here in the USA. Shellfish act as vectors for the bacteria, virus etc that produces toxin thus not specific to one species of shellfish. There is a map attached that shows where shellfish poisoning occurs most. In the picture CFP=ciguatera, PSP=Paralytic and ASP=AmnesticC. Surprising the distribution and it will be interesting how the oil spill affects the distribution. Treatment for all of these is supportive with no known antidote and incidence increases during Red Tide months:

Tox Fish Map

  • Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning
    • Saxitoxin, potent, heat-stable, blocks fast sodium channels
    • Symptoms: Paresthesias, weakness, bulbar symptoms, blindness and paralysis (30m-2hrs after meal)
  • Amnestic Shellfish Poisoning (my favorite excuse for why I forget my anniversary)
    • Domoic acid build up created from Nitzchia spp (a marine diatom). This causes release of gluatamate thus causing excitotoxic nerve damage.
    • 1987 outbreak in Canada saw GI Sx in 24 hrs followed by HA, SZ, memory loss - has been fatal


1009302022_US-toxinmap-circles-2009-web_86265.jpg (86 Kb)