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LEGAZPI, Philippines – At least 25 persons, including four minors, were hospitalized after eating shellfish in Milagros town in Masbate province despite a warning about red tide, according to a Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) report released on Thursday, October 13.
Eleven were admitted at the Rural Health Unit of Milagros while 14 others were endorsed to the Masbate Provincial Hospital after consuming Katipay or Tipay (windowpane oyster) with scientific name Placuna placenta and Baliad (goldlip/blacklip pearl oyster) with scientific name Pinctada spp. on Monday, October 10, BFAR report said.
Most victims showed symptoms like vomiting and stomach pain. The BFAR said all patients are in stable condition.
The patients ate shellfish a week after BFAR Bicol reiterated its ban on catching and consuming this due to the presence of red tide in coastal waters off Milagros.
The Masbate BFAR-provincial fisheries office collected shellfish meat leftovers and plankton samples in the area for laboratory examination.
Rodrigo Lining, People’s Organization President of Sitio Buracay Bangad, Milagros, said the baliad shellfish were gathered in the coastal barangays of Magsalangi and Calasuche, Milagros.
The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources in Bicol warned the public to refrain from selling, buying and consuming of shellfish and alamang after the coastal waters of Milagros in Masbate and the entire Sorsogon Bay in Sorsogon were found positive for red tide.
Nelson Bien, BFAR officer-in-charge in the Bicol region said laboratory tests on shellfish from the waters off Milagros and Sorsogon Bay showed presence of paralytic shellfish poison (PSP).
The usual symptoms of PSP are tingling, numbness of the mouth and extremities, and gastrointestinal discomfort such as vomiting and diarrhea.
In severe cases, difficulty in swallowing and speech, paralysis with respiratory arrest, and even death will occur.
Red tide is caused by microscopic algae that produce toxins that kill fish and make shellfish dangerous to eat. The toxins may also make the surrounding air difficult to breathe. As the name suggests, the bloom of algae often turns the water red.
Shellfish are prone to red tide because when they eat the poison-producing algae, the toxin can accumulate in their tissues. Biotoxins do not harm shellfish, so the level in their tissue will rise until the algae bloom subsides.
Fish squid, shrimps, and crabs are safe for human consumption provided that they are fresh and washed thoroughly and internal organs such as gills and intestines are removed before cooking.
The BFAR warned that violators of the shellfish ban could be P1,000 up to P10,000 or imprisoned for two months up to one year, or both. – Rappler.com