HAMPTON, N.H. (AP) — New Hampshire’s Department of Environmental Services closed the ocean coastline to shellfish harvesting for now over concerns about a toxin.
Officials said the action is in response to very high levels of a microscopic marine algae that’s capable of producing domoic acid, which causes Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning.
Chris Nash, shellfish program manager for the department, said the production of toxin from this type of algae is not predictable.
“Recent samples continue to show extremely high populations of this algae in seawater, unlike anything we have seen before in New Hampshire waters,” he said in a statement. “It is important to be cautious until more shellfish testing can be done, and until the algae bloom subsides.”
New samples results are expected by June 9.
Ingesting the toxin can cause a variety of symptoms including vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps. In more severe cases, neurological symptoms develop within 48 hours of consumption, and can include headache, dizziness, disorientation, motor weakness, seizures, cardiac arrhythmias, temporary and/or permanent short term memory loss, and possible death.
The department said the precautionary shellfish harvest closure does not apply to commercial or recreational harvest of oysters in Little Bay and Great Bay, where algae populations are low.
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